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  1. I like iroman challenges on fire emblem games. Even if i often lose some unit for stupid mistake or distraction, i really enjoy playing ironman; so i decided to do run on fire emblem engage by adding some personal rule to add difficult: - i am forced to use 3 unti i consider bad, and i need to level and avoid thier death. The units in question are Anna, Jean and Timerra. -i cannot use any flying or mounted class after chapter 11. -if a unit start in a mounted class i can use him/her in the joining chapter of the unit and then reclass. -since in the early game i needed some mounted units to do something, all of them are dropped after chapter 11. -No well allowed. -No fire emblem heroes weapon and ring. -I am allowed to scam some bond ring (force them to appear), but no Olwen ring. -I am allowed to use the 3000 gold and 10 steel ingot we get automatically after chapter 4 or 5. (this resource are not indispensable, but i dont want to think too much about them) -No DLC Right now i am on chapter 19 without any death. I got back Sigurd and Leif, so it is the right moment to do some team change and Inherit some skills. I'd like some suggestiong for Jean and Timerra from someone who have used them before. For jean i planned to recriut in late and make him an axe fighter than a berseker (he reached lev 10 and promoted when Timerra joined) and then make him chatch up thanks to Byleth. Right now he is fine but definetly far from amazing. for the very late game i planned to make him a swordmaster with Roy so that he get 4 speed when engaged and can reach a lot 1-2 kill treshold with binding blade. But for now i wonder if it is better to make him stay as berseker (for better growth) or change his class to warrior for better fighting potential (long bow chain attack). For Timerra, she will remain a picket. I plan to give her Leif with speed + X and def + X from lyn and ike (and maybe 1-2 dracoshield). The purpose is to have and enemy phase unit that dont die (and sometimes kill thanks to sandsotrm), but i honestly never bother too much with her so if there is a better build i am open to suggestion. Also Def + 3 /4 or Resolve from ike? Thanks for your suggestion, and if you are interest in how i did a chapter feel free to ask.
  2. Gallery of screenshots - only from maps 3-6: https://imgur.com/a/fWVbGgZ This was my first and only Maddening run of the Xenologue - my previous run was on Normal, just to rush through it for the story and to know what to expect from the gameplay. Only base-game builds: I wanted to test/confirm for myself that it’s not unreasonable to complete the Xenologue 'deathless' with a party taken from a completed no-DLC Maddening file of the base game, with no new additions - i.e. not learning new skills specifically for the Xenologue. In my view, even the highest difficulty shouldn’t be designed around assumptions of players having specific builds - in this case referring to builds that are specifically well-suited for the Xenologue. After all, you might have insufficient Bond Fragments left on your endgame save, and I don’t think players should be expected to grind in the main game just to make the DLC’s highest difficulty bearable. I also think the Xenologue somewhat overcompensated for the forced Casual mode with its increased difficulty compared to the rest of the game, but that’s another matter. My builds that I carried over to the Xenologue are listed here, in my report about my completed no-DLC Maddening run of the main game - obviously only the inherited skills are relevant for the Xenologue: https://forums.serenesforest.net/index.php?/topic/98374-engage-maddening-classic-completed-main-story-detailed-report/ On that note, it was a weird design decision for the Xenologue to have fixed classes and inventory but customisable skillsets - that can unfairly disadvantage players depending on which units they trained in the base game, and in some cases certain skills wouldn’t work nearly as well on the Xenologue’s forced classes. A notable example is Anna being stuck as a Berserker, whereas in the main game she was vastly better in a magic class. Almost deathless: I only lost 2 units right near the end of map 4, and 2 units at the very end of map 6 - but all of these deaths were easily preventable. In both maps I only had 3 rewinds remaining when those units were lost, so I didn’t want to risk failing those missions by rewinding back too far and losing my identified path to victory. Xenologue 1 (no units lost) - it was all about Zelkov’s fog, Alear’s Bonded Shield, and Jade’s high Def to block the Wolves from reaching Nel and Nil who retreated to the top-left corner and never faced any combat on this map. Xenologue 2 (no units lost) - took all my units to the bottom-left corner then used the narrow paths to form chokepoints until all approaching enemies were gone, then defeated Celine, then finished off Alfred with the help of Lucina’s All For One (a lot of units chain attacked with it). Xenologue 3 (no units lost) - Held a chokepoint just above the starting area, then used Zelestia’s Elthunder + Alcryst’s Astra Storm to defeat the Cannoneers on the distant platforms. Zelestia had to be in range of Seadall’s Dance to retreat every time the low-hit Elthunder missed, as I needed Elthunder to hit on the same turn as Astra Storm due to the Cannoneers’ healing tiles, and I couldn’t leave Zelestia in range of the archers on those platforms. Then I used luring tactics with a single unit to trigger the flying reinforcements, while the rest of my party bunched up together at the reinforcement locations (the locations were learned from failed attempts and rewinds), so I could deal with them immediately. Then retreated to a central chokepoint near the starting area to deal with both bosses. Xenologue 4 (2 units lost right near the end) - Lured Timerra away from her minions by putting a unit in range of her Engage Attack, then froze her with Zelkov-Corrin’s Dreadful Aura while my party got into position to defeat her. Then tried to take out some approaching Corrupted Wyverns from long range (e.g. with Astra Storm), until Ivy was close enough that I could go all in to finish her off - she’d taken Astra Storm damage on turn 1. Going all in on defeating Ivy meant that I had to sacrifice a few units that were unlikely to hit Ivy or deal much damage to her. It was definitely possible to clear this map deathless with my builds, but would’ve required a lot more patience; I just wanted to finish this chaotic and stressful map. Things only got out of control after some unlucky RNG with low-Hit attacks actually landing from Ivy and Corrupted Wyverns. At that point I could see a likely path to victory at the cost of losing some units, so I didn’t want to risk failing the map just to try for a perfect run, since I only had 3 rewinds left. Xenologue 5 (no units lost) - Rushed to defeat the Cannoneer below Alear, using Zelkov’s Dragon Vein fog to make chokepoints in narrow corridors as my party approached. Then kept Celine below Alear’s cage to heal her, eventually using Celine’s Warp Ragnarok to rejoin my party in Nil’s room - had to do that so Celine could trade for another Physic when she ran out. Should’ve brought Micaiah for Great Sacrifice - instead had to rely on Astra Storm for the Corrupted Wyverns frequently spawning above Alear. That meant I had to prioritise filling Alcryst’s Engage Meter as soon as his Engage ran out. For the Wolf pack on the right of the map, relied on Zelkov in fog/pillars to avoid most of their hits, as well as Jade who couldn’t be damaged by them - both had Pair Up. Then lured Fogado and Hortensia from the edge of their range, and used Zelkov’s Dreadful Aura to freeze them (both were adjacent) while defeating their minions. Then used Amber’s Momentum+ with 14 movement range to rush the 2 extra Cannoneers that spawned near Alear on turn 20. To defeat Nil quickly, I used Anna’s Instruct (Byleth) for +4 Str on Zelkov, so after he inflicted Draconic Hex he could actually damage Nil with a dagger, which enabled him to then stack full poison on Nil. Xenologue 6 (16 turns, left path taken, 2 units lost in final enemy phase) - detailed notes below: - Deployed units’ starting spaces from top to bottom, left to right: Ivy, Zelkov, Alcryst, Seadall, Jean, Boucheron, Jade, Amber. - Emblem pairings: Alear-Lucina, Nel-Marth, Zelestia-Micaiah, Madeline-Leif, Gregory-Celica, Zelkov-Corrin, none-Seadall, Alcryst-Lyn, Boucheron-Roy, Jean-Eirika, Amber-Sigurd, Ivy-Byleth, Jade-Ike. In some ways this final map is great, with its unique mechanics unlike anything else in all the FE games I’ve played. But the unique mechanics and some other aspects led to so much frustrating trial and error; I took 38 hours of attempts to finally clear it. I think the two longest attempts were each around 8 hours, including the successful run. There were just so many possibilities to consider, and so much careful deliberation about long-term consequences. I haven’t had to think this hard since Conquest Lunatic’s Endgame map. My main issue with the design of this level is that Fell Nil’s defensive stats are so absurdly high that he takes zero or near-zero damage from most attacks, even with Draconic Hex plus Alear’s personal skill. It’s incredibly restrictive that you can only deal significant damage with specific skills such as Lunar Brace, and it also heavily depends on how many hits you can deal with Lunar Brace in each round of combat. This restrictiveness is especially problematic when limited to base-game builds, as it rules out other notable damage-boosting skills such as Reprisal. So my only unit that could seriously damage Fell Nil was Jean with Eirika - thankfully he had *just* enough Spd to quad-attack with Silver-Spirit Art, but only with the combination of Speed +4 (skill from my base-game build), Seadall’s Special Dance, and -4 Spd on Fell Nil from Draconic Hex. But even the four hits while Engaged and adjacent to Alear only dealt 68 total damage, so my other units had to take off the other 12 HP for each 80-HP bar - the boss had 3 revival stones in my successful run. As I had calculated Jean’s damage numbers in advance of my successful run, my entire plan for this map depended on getting my critical units (Jean, Seadall, Alear, Ivy) to the final Fell Sigil, while clearing out enough enemies that I’d be able to survive until turn 16. That was based on my previous failed run where I noted Fell Nil’s actions for each turn, so I knew he’d arrive at the final Sigil on turn 15. Ideally I wanted to kill him on that turn, but my party other than Jean didn’t have enough power for that, even when using the Dance + Goddess Dance combo on Jean. It turned out fine because I cleared out enough of the nearby enemies, and didn’t need to worry about the vortex-summoned enemies that appeared on turn 16 since I knew I could finish the boss on that turn. Apart from the issue of most units struggling to damage Fell Nil, my other issue with this level’s design is how it led to so much 'trial and error' gameplay - especially with the reinforcements, summons, destruction areas and Fell Nil’s movements; some of these things can vary depending on the player’s actions. Only after completing the map did I find out online exactly how the reinforcements depend on your path through the map - and how could a player know that excessive reinforcements essentially serve as a 'punishment' for taking the left path through Alfred? In my view, standard game design would suggest that the difficulty of getting past Alfred (due to his defensive prowess and Piercing Glare) should indicate that his area is a high-risk high-reward path. I had only tried the middle path in an early attempt of this map, but gave up on that because it seemed too difficult to block many of the Mage Cannoneer summon spaces in time, and even more difficult to escape the middle area before it’s destroyed. This was another case of too much trial and error being required to figure out this map - a downside of introducing unique mechanics in a final mission, whereas standard game design would typically have new mechanics introduced in easier situations earlier in the game. So after many failed attempts, I gradually refined my strategy until I stuck with this approach: Turn 1 Astra Storm (20-range with Alcryst) to lure Timerra, so that she dies from the first area’s destruction - I kept Ivy just out of the destruction zone as my only unit in Timerra’s range, to make sure Timerra would be in the zone when it’s destroyed. I figured it was better to defeat her early on, due to a failed attempt where she arrived at the final Sigil area at the worst possible time, and I couldn’t stop her from getting kills due to her Engage Attack’s flame terrain hindering my efforts to reach her. After removing Timerra, I then rushed to kill Pandreo, to prevent his Revival Blessing on Fell Nil. Meanwhile, Alcryst used Summon Doubles below the second Sigil to stall the first Wyvern reinforcements from the bottom of the map. Alfred was conveniently lured out to attack a low-Res unit near Fogado’s spot (he attacked with Runesword), so I easily killed Alfred on non-forest terrain with magic double-attacks from Ivy and Zelestia. Then rushed north to escape the destruction zone, using Zelkov’s Dragon Vein fog at the rear of my party to prevent the closest Wolf from reaching any units - I really didn’t want any units to have reduced HP. Seadall’s Dance + Zelkov’s Dreadful Aura allowed Zelkov to immobilise both Hortensia (who approached my party first) and Ivy, so I could finish them off as my whole party reached the northwest area on turn 8; Fogado’s area gets destroyed on that turn’s enemy phase. Then it was a very difficult balancing act of guarding the party’s rear from the left-side reinforcements, while luring out Celine and finishing her off - then had to very carefully approach the middle area below the final Sigil, due to the excessive number of Corrupted Wyverns spawning at the top of the map above that Sigil. To deal with them, I used various methods such as: Rescue and Amber’s Canter+ to retreat after killing them, using Alcryst’s Summoned Doubles as bait (80+ Avoid vs the enemy’s 100 Hit), Zelkov’s Dragon Vein fog to completely prevent them and other enemies from attacking units they can’t hit, etc. Notably used Amber’s Override to kill two Corrupted Wyverns plus another enemy all at once. The Corrupted Wyverns are generally only a threat when combined with other types of enemies in range of your units, as their damage and Hit rates are very low - mainly have to worry about miasma being inflicted on units that don’t have enough Avoid to reliably dodge other enemies’ attacks. The weapon-wielding Wyvern reinforcements were often more of a problem than the big Corrupted Wyverns, as I only had one unit that could defeat them in one round under normal conditions: Alcryst with Ivy. In the lead-up to turn 15 when I knew Fell Nil would then arrive at the final Sigil, I made sure all the relevant Engage Meters were full, and in most cases I waited until turn 13 for my units to Engage for the final time on this map, so they’d still be Engaged on turns 15 and 16 when attacking Fell Nil. This mattered most for Jean-Eirika and Ivy-Byleth, as I needed the Lunar Brace damage and the Goddess Dance. I only had 3 rewinds left for the last few turns while waiting around at the final Sigil, in some cases due to very unlucky RNG, but I should’ve had 5 left - made 2 very stupid mistakes just from lack of concentration. One of the RNG rewinds was after Zelkov died to summoned-Leif’s Light Brand crit (with very low Hit), but then after my adjustments Leif double-critted Gregory. Amazingly, Gregory survived that due to his very high Res. With only 3 rewinds left for the combat against Fell Nil, I felt a strong sense of dread, knowing that all the time on this attempt could be wasted if the boss got lucky with Sandstorm procs when countering Jean. Fell Nil had absorbed both Sandstorm and Luna, but it turned out that Jean could just barely survive a Luna hit from full HP! He only got hit by one Luna and no Sandstorms. As I was relying mostly on Jean (Engaged with Eirika) to defeat the boss, I improved the odds of dodging a Sandstorm hit by stacking his Avoid with the forest terrain next to the final Sigil, plus support bonuses and Alear’s Bond Forger (+30 Hit/Avoid) from Engage+. I just used the Engage+ on Jade since she didn’t have much else to contribute at that point.
  3. Compilation of all 13 clips from the run - these are all short clips via the Switch screenshot button: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtwW1CNGs-Y Gallery of all 41 screenshots I took: https://imgur.com/a/l4PaKdF (showing turn counts and time for every mission, post-final boss character reel, map screenshots e.g. large enemy groups) ————— Contents ————— i. Intro (restrictions, preparations, playtime, paralogues) ii. Difficulty Analysis (game mechanics, general strategies, etc) iii. Notes on Specific Maps (including paralogues) iv. Comparison to Other FE Highest Difficulties v. Team Overview (classes, weapon/unit types, teambuilding) vi. My Units (deployment, stats, skills, performance) vii. Weapon Engravings viii. Somniel, Smithy and Shopping ix. Allocation of Permanent Stat-Boost Items ————— i. Intro (restrictions, preparations, playtime, paralogues) ————— Intro summary: Any character death = rewind/reset, completed Hard first, no DLC or Amiibos, all paralogues, all 4 skirmishes, 148 hours (82 battle hours). I’m continuing my tradition of writing reports on my completed gaming challenges. At 16,000 words this is even longer than my Three Houses Maddening report (12,000). This post is partly for my own future reference, but I hope some parts might interest anyone who is either planning a Maddening run or just curious about other people’s runs, and the ways that people’s playstyles can vary. As with every other FE game I’ve played, I reset/rewind if any character dies. I also didn’t let any green allied units die. Restrictions and previous Hard run: Maddening mode didn’t live up to its name for me, as it wasn’t that much of a challenge overall - although I think it could’ve been tough if I’d played it completely blind, i.e. as my first run of the game. I didn’t spoil anything for myself about Maddening mode specifically; in fact, I’ve avoided *all* online discussions and gameplay footage of this game. My only prior knowledge of the gameplay was from completing Hard Classic first, which gave me some idea of what would be effective and ineffective, including characters, classes, Emblems, strategies, etc. That first run also made me aware of the number of missions, and most importantly the point where all Emblem Rings are lost. My avoidance of any online content related to the game was due to my preference for discovering my own preferred tactics. I don’t mind that this often results in overlooking 'optimal' ways to play - it’s more enjoyable to play how you want to, as long as it works well enough to complete the game without too much struggle. I also avoided all DLC and Amiibos for this run. Additionally, I played as though the free Update Bonuses were never received (such as the large amount of extra gold and Bond Fragments), by counting those extra amounts as my new zero equivalent. E.g. I never let myself fall below 10 Steel Ingots or 20 Silver Ingots, as that was the bonus amount. In FE games I never play the highest difficulty as my first run when there are at least 3 difficulty levels; I don’t want the challenge to come from things like being unfamiliar with the game’s unique mechanics, its number of chapters, when characters join, how much gold is available, etc. Although my completed Hard run was useful for testing many things such as units and strategies, I underestimated or overlooked how much the effectiveness of some things would diminish in Maddening, mainly due to the higher enemy stats. However, all of my 14 chosen units still provided valuable contributions. I might have had above-average growths in my Hard run, which influenced my choice of units in Maddening, e.g. Framme who I soon regretted using again. I prefer Fixed Growths when there’s the option between that or Random, but I was forced into Fixed anyway as this was my first Maddening run. I just don’t like the risk of units falling well short of their potential, especially with the crucial Spd stat. Total play time: 148 hours shown on my game file after the final boss, but the actual time would have also included the one time I used up 10 rewinds and then reset a mission - that was on Corrin’s paralogue as I was quite underlevelled for it, but on the second attempt I cleared it quite easily. I also had to reset a few times on Chapter 11, due to not having rewinds for most of it. Only ~82 of the 148 hours were spent in battle maps; the remaining time was spent on mundane/grindy activities in the Somniel, as noted in the 'Somniel, Smithy and Shopping' section. My time was also padded out by viewing many support conversations. Optional battles: The 82 battle hours included completing all 4 skirmishes that spawned (see the 'Difficulty Analysis' section for details), and completing every paralogue. Jean and Anna’s paralogues were done as soon as they were available, as well as Lucina’s because it was very simple even with promoted enemies against my base classes. The other Emblem paralogues were completed as soon as most of my units were promoted, starting with the Emblems whose level 11-20 skills seemed most valuable - Corrin was a high priority, for reasons noted in Zelkov’s part of the 'My Units' section. The Pact Ring paralogue was also done as soon as available, and was the hardest mission overall. Overall, this was one of my most enjoyed highest-difficulty runs of any FE game - much more fun than Three Houses Maddening at least, as there weren’t as many 'grinding' opportunities other than the slow Somniel routine (mainly for maximising Bond Fragments, but also for the fairly small benefits of unit optimisation). ————— ii. Difficulty Analysis (game mechanics, general strategies, etc) ————— Difficulty variation throughout the game: In FE games I usually notice the same pattern on the highest difficulty: A challenging earlygame, easier midgame, then a challenging lategame. The early challenge is mostly due to fewer strategic options, e.g. not having many of the Emblem Rings. You also have none of the class skills of advanced classes, and it takes time to earn enough SP for the most potent inheritable skills, such as Pair Up, Speedtaker and Dual Support. You also don’t have all the weapon engravings available, and some of those are very impactful, such as the ones that boost Avoid by at least 20, even up to 40 (see the 'Weapon Engravings' section for my weapon choices). Although there’s a difficulty spike in Chapter 11 when you lose all Emblem Rings (and the rewind mechanic briefly), the midgame after that was much easier than that chapter, as Alear and Zelkov were already functioning well as Avoid tanks. Only a few of the Emblem paralogues were challenging as I wanted to get decent exp from them; see my points in this section about boss-kill objectives and exp. As for the lategame missions, the main issue was the vast numbers of starting enemies plus reinforcements, which often spawned in from many different directions. Player Phase vs Enemy Phase: In my experience—at least on Maddening—this game favoured units that excel during Enemy Phase, over units that function better on Player Phase. This is partly because of all the strong Enemy Phase options such as Chain Guard, Lucina’s Bonded Shield, Zelkov’s +10 Avoid personal skill, etc. Avoid tanking is even more potent given that Chain Guard stays up when enemies miss, and Bonded Shield doesn’t break from any amount of combat. The only notable things for Player Phase were the Brave-effect weapons (particularly Flashing Fist Art) and the Engage Attacks/abilities, such as Override, Goddess Dance, etc. Avoid tanking: I used both Alear (with Lucina) and Zelkov (with Corrin) in this role. When Avoid boosts from engraved weapons are stacked with support bonuses and skills such as Dual Support and Pair Up, you can make some invincible Avoid tanks. However, on Maddening you often have to limit your Avoid to be 'not quite' invincible, as enemies no longer attack with a 0% hit chance unless they can trigger chain attacks. This intentional limitation is mainly relevant when using Avoid tanks as Enemy Phase lures to weaken but not kill all the enemies that attack, so your other units can finish them for exp. To achieve ideal Avoid stats I simply switched between weapons as needed, often by trade-equipping when Alear and Zelkov were adjacent to each other but away from any other allies. My best Avoid tank was Zelkov; Corrin on a Thief is a huge game-changer in general, as noted in my discussion of Zelkov in the 'My Units' section. The difficulty dropped after getting Corrin, so then the main challenge was just to spread out experience rather than letting my near-invincible Alear and Zelkov take it all. It was important for my other units to be of a decent level as there aren’t always convenient chokepoints, although a couple of Emblem abilities can essentially create chokepoints anywhere: Corrin with fog terrain and Roy with flame terrain. Luckily there aren’t many enemies with Pass, but the hardest mission for me was the one that did have quite a few Thieves with Pass, who actually hunt down your units as there are no chests - it was the Pact Ring paralogue. Trade-equipping weapons: I find it strange how the trade-equip method has still never been hinted at in any of the FE games I’ve played, despite being such a game-changing technique - especially in this game where you can switch Backup units back to their longer-range weapons for more reach with chain attacks. Infinite weapon durability would normally be balanced out by the drawbacks (and/or price) of stronger weapons, but the trade method can often negate that, e.g. by using a heavy weapon then swapping to a safer weapon for Enemy Phase. However, Engage Weapons can’t be changed with this method, and you can’t trade-equip a unit's regular weapons to their Engage Weapons. So the Engage Weapons have an added drawback in that sense, as they require full commitment when equipped during a character’s last action for the current Player Phase. Smash weapons: I hardly ever saw much need for the smash effect. One occasional use was to push an enemy without killing it, so that it would fill in a gap in a line of enemies, making it possible to Override them all. The more relevant aspect of smash weapons was their high Mt, making them good choices for when it wouldn’t be possible to double with other weapons anyway. The high Mt also made them useful for some Engage Attacks, such as Lodestar Rush and Override. Enemy smash weapons weren’t very common, and among my 3 tanks only Jade had to worry about a smash potentially ruining her effort to block a space. Alear and Zelkov were Avoid tanks so they were unlikely to be hit by any weapons, let alone the relatively inaccurate smash weapons. This was yet another way in which Avoid tanking was overpowered. Weapon Break effect: Weapon breaks weren’t nearly as important as I expected, either offensively or defensively. Offensively, I rarely needed Break as I had many options to outrange enemies, such as 3-range weapons. Combined with chain attacks, this meant I could often kill enemies before any potential counter-attacks. However, Break was somewhat more useful against Knife users due to their 1-2 range and high Spd, which made them harder to kill because of high Avoid and less double-attack potential against them. Enemy knife users were easier to deal with once Jean had Flashing Fist Art and either a Hit-boosting engraving or Divine Pulse+. On the defensive side, the Break effect was another case where Avoid tanking made a game mechanic irrelevant a lot of the time - I was usually able to ensure that most of the Enemy Phase combat was directed towards my Avoid tanks. When enemies have multiple choices of targets, they often target a unit who can’t counter very effectively anyway (if they can counter at all). Also, my only non-Avoid tank Jade was Armoured, so she couldn’t be broken by weapon advantage. Reinforcements and map objectives: Thankfully the lategame provided some slight challenge, because when you want most of your team to keep up in levels you can’t rely on a couple of invincible units for everything - you have to contend with wide-open maps combined with the vast number of enemies in the lategame. The later missions included endless or near-endless reinforcements, with Void Curse to further discourage safe but slow strategies. On that note, this game has a surprisingly high number of boss-kill objectives, so it’s relatively easy to speedrun those missions if you want to - bosses actually leave their initial positions (even abandoning terrain bonuses) to hunt you down at the slightest provocation. Even a no-damage attack can trigger their approach, or simply waiting a certain number of turns. The speed strats for boss-kill maps include things like Astra Storm (up to 20 range!) to lure bosses, or using Micaiah’s 4-unit Warps to reach the boss, etc. So the real challenge in Maddening was to resist the temptation of quick boss kills, as it would waste a lot of experience in a difficulty mode that greatly reduces skirmish spawns on the world map; only 4 skirmishes spawned for me. However, the skirmishes have such strong enemies that I ended up deploying only Alear and Zelkov for each one, which took them from "a bit overlevelled" to "a bit more overlevelled". Here’s what skirmishes looked like with just my two Avoid tanks: https://i.imgur.com/oFDAdJL.jpg, https://i.imgur.com/2ayfRqN.jpg. Even without skirmishes, it was still very easy to catch up weaker units that had been benched for a while due to deployment limits - with Dance + Goddess Dance you can give the same unit 4 actions per Player Phase, and you can also use Byleth’s inheritable Mentorship skill (only 250 SP) for even more exp. Thanks to chain attacks, you can even level up non-staff-wielding units that are dealing little or no damage by themselves. Chain attacks: The fixed 10% damage made chain attacks incredibly useful in general, not just for helping weaker units get kills. I found the Warrior class very effective as they can chain attack with Longbow range, even up to 8 spaces away with the Dual Assist skill which my 2 Warriors inherited. It doesn’t matter how bulky a boss is when you can combine Corrin’s Draconic Hex, poison status from knives, and multiple chain attacks per combat. A fun tactic is to give 4 actions (via Dance + Goddess Dance) to a unit engaged with Celica, so you can use Echo for up to 8 rounds of chain attacks, each with multiple chain attackers. That’s one way to destroy bosses, and it’s helped by the fact that so many bosses can be attacked from outside of their countering range, especially when you use a 3-range weapon. Engage Attacks also can’t be countered, so Maddening’s challenge usually isn’t due to bosses. Deaths and rewinds - Draconic Time Crystal: In many maps I only used 2 or 3 of the 10 rewinds, and sometimes that was just due to an unnecessary gamble to make things quicker/simpler (especially when victory was inevitable), or because I’d tried to avoid wasting a precious use of a staff such as Freeze. In other words, it wasn’t always due to a character’s death or an unfixable situation. However, deaths did happen occasionally due to unforeseen events on Enemy Phase. That was sometimes due to the large number of enemies especially in the lategame, or sometimes because of overcommitting to killing a group of enemies on a given turn, rather than retreating and/or creating a defensive formation. Some rewinds happened because Avoid tanking with non-zero Avoid naturally provides the chance for unlucky RNG; when enemies actually hit, they tend to hit very hard on Maddening. Maddening felt quite well balanced around the generous number of rewinds, although the location and timing of reinforcements sometimes caught me off-guard. This led to some 'trial and error' methods such as doing a quick test run of a map, where I’d wait to see what turn numbers trigger reinforcements/movement, or where units can trigger location-based reinforcements. Rewinds were also valuable on the few maps where enemies have Warp - in Byleth’s paralogue I changed a death into an amusing situation where a Silenced enemy tome user got Warped behind my front line. So the AI clearly hasn’t mastered Warp yet. Enemy AI: While the AI is usually smart enough on Maddening to not attack for a 0% hit chance or 0 damage, enemies still attacked my units in those cases if they could trigger chain attacks, even on my units that had Pair Up. So the AI doesn’t appear to check for Pair Up, which makes that skill even more valuable. Enemies also happily went for 1 or 2 damage per hit, e.g. against my General Jade who could counter for much more damage. In some cases, foes on Maddening won’t even move towards your units if they currently have no way to damage your units that they could reach at some point: https://youtu.be/mtwW1CNGs-Y. That means there are some situations where you can potentially halt the approach of enemies until you’re ready to deal with them, without necessarily needing other methods such as Obstruct. Engage Meter and Emblem Energy spaces: On most maps I rarely needed to use the Emblem Energy spaces, especially when I’d unlocked the higher bond levels with Emblems. I mainly used the spaces in situations where bosses and/or enemy groups were approaching while I’d recently used up my Engage turns. Sometimes I intentionally kept units away from passive healing (e.g. terrain or Seadall’s skill), so my staff users could heal them both for filling their own Engage Meters and gaining exp. It’s notable that being double-attacked is sometimes beneficial since the Engage Meter fills for each enemy attack, as well as each player-unit attack. Although being doubled would occur mostly to units that are too slow to perform many double attacks of their own, there are some ways to instantly raise or lower a unit’s Spd as required, e.g. Flashing Fist Art for +5 Spd, or lowering Spd with a weapon exceeding the unit’s Bld. That means some units could maximise their Engage Meter fill rate depending on enemy Spd stats, although in practice I usually forgot about this. The Engage Meter was yet another reason why Avoid tanks were overpowered, as they not only have the Spd to double, but also fill their Meter for each of the many enemy attacks they avoid. This made Alear and Zelkov even more dominant, as they usually had access to Lucina’s and Corrin’s many strong options that required them to be Engaged. Infinite weapon durability and management of gold: Unlike in FE Fates, the higher-ranked weapons generally don’t have major drawbacks to offset the infinite durability, so there isn’t as much need for trade-equipping to different weapons after using a 1-2 or 1-3 range weapon. This noticeably reduced the game’s overall difficulty, as it’s easier to outrange enemies and counter them. Some characters also have enough Bld growth to gradually mitigate the drawback of high weapon Wt, which is one reason why Brave, Silver and effective-damage weapons (mainly Ridersbane) ended up being so useful. Despite the infinite weapon uses and my use of Anna’s personal skill, gold was quite limited up until 50,000 was received at the end of Chapter 20. See the section 'Somniel, Smithy and Shopping' for notes on how I spent money. Incidentally, I tend to find the FE games with infinite durability more enjoyable as it reduces a lot of the tedious inventory management. ————— iii. Notes on Specific Maps (including paralogues) ————— Most missions weren’t particularly challenging, but I did have to play carefully, just nowhere near as carefully as in the older FE games that don’t have rewinds. I don’t discuss all missions here, mainly just the ones that had enough challenge to stick in my memory. Main Story: Chapter 4 was tricky at the start, requiring fairly specific moves to keep everyone alive. Chapter 5 was also tricky - I remember making good use of Louis with Sigurd, and Engage Attacks on the bulky boss. Chapter 9 was fairly tight at first, with saving Jade and dealing with enemies both at the top and bottom. Chapter 10 was a difficulty spike; I had to back up with my whole party after luring Hortensia, using multiple Obstructs around her while I finished off her minions. To deal with the rather bulky Hyacinth, I used Obstruct and the impassable terrain to protect some of my units while I wore him down with chain attacks. Chapter 11 seemed very hard at first, and it can be quite unforgiving to units who are prone to bad RNG (e.g. low Hit). After a few failed attempts with different approaches, my new successful strategy was to move Alear as far south as possible each turn, even if there was a slight chance of dying. The rest of my units just finished off foes who moved up to fight Alear, and it didn’t take long to reach the rewind-recovering point this way. Chapters 12 and 13 were a bit challenging because of promoted foes against my base classes. Chapter 12 was also tough because I made sure to keep all green allies alive, and 13 required very cautious moves in the dark - Zelkov stayed far back behind my party to solo the fliers, and eventually moved up to the front with Alear to block a 2-space chokepoint where the 2 bosses had moved up to. In Chapter 15 I sometimes broke my own ice obstacles (from Obstruct / Dragon Vein) when I was just using them to remove miasma. Chapter 17 was surprisingly easy; I moved to the northeast at the start, then lured each group of enemies to that area as it has two 1-space chokepoints, with plenty of room in the back for the whole party. Chapter 19 also ended up being easy once Mauvier used up his 5 Warps, as I merged my separated party in the southwest, and then kept them safe behind the 1-space chokepoint leading onto the ship: https://i.imgur.com/r6myhyJ.jpg. Also, here’s one of the two times the AI made me laugh with very dumb usage of a movement staff: https://youtu.be/mtwW1CNGs-Y?t=29. Chapter 20 was strangely uneventful as Griss never ambushed me - I had to seek him out, after defeating all other enemies. Chapter 21 was fairly tight at the start; I made good use of Corrin’s Dreadful Aura and Sigurd’s Override. This was where I used the most satisfying Override ever, with maximum Momentum and Ridersbane to just barely reach the one-hit kill threshold: https://youtu.be/mtwW1CNGs-Y?t=38. It was tempting to farm exp from the excessive reinforcements, but I eventually needed Micaiah’s 4-unit Warp to get a group of boss-killers near Veyle, as I’d overcommitted to farming exp further down in the map: https://i.imgur.com/n9jQRJy.jpg. Chapter 22 was a bit difficult as it was hard to make a safe 3-tank blockade (Alear, Zelkov and Jade) in the central area just above the Corrupted Wyrm. That was partly due to the lack of Emblem Rings - or in Alear’s case, having Marth instead of the usual Lucina for Bonded Shield, etc. Despite the large group of enemies that funnelled into that middle area, the mission wasn’t as unforgiving as Chapter 11 thanks to rewinds. Chapter 24’s main challenge was dealing with enemies from both the top and bottom while I converged my separated party towards the middle row of the map. The turn limit was very generous though - I only used 8 turns out of 15: https://i.imgur.com/djFJKMo.jpg. Even if my whole party had been pushed back to the left edge of the map by the middle-row avalanche, I still would’ve had enough turns. That was because I focused on reaching Astra Storm range on the boss to lure her - I could’ve used a Rescue staff on Alcryst after that if necessary, but I didn’t need to. For Chapter 25 I considered using Micaiah’s 5-space Rescues at the start to quickly gather my whole party on one side, but that was just a backup plan. I chose the unit starting locations mainly based on supports and weapon types, including staves. Some of my tankier units briefly stayed behind on each side to hold off the frequent reinforcements, but once Alear had solo-killed much of the middle room with her Killing Edge in one Enemy Phase, I then moved both my left and right groups swiftly towards Lumera. I didn’t slow down my approach just to avoid Lumera’s AOE attacks, unless it was the only way to keep units alive on the same Enemy Phase. Chloé eventually used Micaiah’s Great Sacrifice to undo all the damage from those attacks and many battles. Silence and Astra Storm dealt with the Entrap and Meteor foes. Here’s how easy it was for Amber to finish off Lumera’s last full HP bar: https://youtu.be/mtwW1CNGs-Y?t=54. Also, two screenshots from just before that final action: https://i.imgur.com/3PLb9h7.jpg, https://i.imgur.com/jPl6cDL.jpg. Chapter 26 was fairly simple as I finished off the fourth barrier-creating enemy with one unit at the start of a Player Phase, so my other units could defeat the final boss that turn, making use of Draconic Hex, poison, Dance + Goddess Dance, Bond Blast, etc. Here’s how I finished the run in style: https://youtu.be/mtwW1CNGs-Y?t=83. Paralogues - in order of completion: Lucina’s paralogue was simple enough to clear as soon as it appeared, mostly thanks to Zelkov, Alear and chain attacks. Lyn’s paralogue was difficult at the start with the party being split up - Zelkov kept the southeast fliers distracted and weakened them, while Jade held off some northwest enemies until Alear’s group moved there to help finish them off. Then I retreated all my units to the northeast corner (avoiding the eastern enemy range by using an Obstruct), while Lyn automatically approached by herself. I tanked an Astra Storm then baited her into using her bow at the edge of her attack range, so I could safely bypass her Avoid with Elsurge. I hadn’t defeated any of the stationary tent enemies, but the abundant reinforcements didn’t matter as they only appeared once Lyn finally initiated combat near my whole party: https://youtu.be/mtwW1CNGs-Y?t=114. Byleth’s mission went quite smoothly because of many enemies focusing on crystals instead of attacking my units. I didn’t bother with protecting many crystals, so it was safe to ignore all the crystal-focused enemies while gradually nearing the boss. Byleth was risky to approach due to Warp and Goddess Dance, so I waited until he moved out from his starting spot. Corrin’s mission was a bit difficult as most of my units had quite a level disadvantage, and also because you can’t use Corrin’s Ring for her own abilities that make a huge difference on Maddening: Draconic Hex, Dreadful Aura, Pair Up, and Dragon Vein fog. Her own Pair Up also made her much harder to kill, so I relied on poison, Alear’s personal skill, Engage Attacks, and Dance + Goddess Dance to defeat her while many enemies were starting to surround my party. Ike’s paralogue wasn’t too tough - at the start, Zelkov controlled the right-side crowd of enemies with Corrin’s Dreadful Aura and Dragon Vein fog. When Ike demolished the castle, I retreated my dispersed units all into the right side which had been cleared out mostly by Zelkov. With the help of Obstruct, Chain Guard, Bonded Shield etc, I was able to hold off the many enemies until Ike was close enough in the top-right area to be defeated by my tome users who could outrange Ragnell - mainly used Anna. The final turn looked like this: https://i.imgur.com/JxUqXfh.jpg. Micaiah’s mission could’ve been simple if I’d just rushed for the boss kill, but I wanted a decent amount of exp from it. So I kept my party in the top-middle area, with Jade blocking the top-left space and Alear the top-right space. My only other tank was Zelkov, who was the main unit responsible for holding off the huge crowd of enemies slightly below this top-middle area, despite the 3-space opening. That was possible thanks to Dragon Vein fog as well as flame terrain from Blazing Lion (Boucheron) and the top-middle area’s flame ballista thing. My party was just barely able to hold the defensive line until Micaiah approached and got close enough for several units to reach and defeat her. These two screenshots show how I was on the verge of being overwhelmed: https://i.imgur.com/ga15MCc.jpg, https://i.imgur.com/Yg0x4dl.jpg. Also a clip of the tense situation shortly before finishing off Micaiah: https://youtu.be/mtwW1CNGs-Y?t=128. Sigurd’s map was easier than expected - even the maxed-stats Sages in the bottom corner were no trouble. I just had to block the bridge with Alear and Zelkov next to each other, then I could safely farm exp once I’d used Astra Storm to defeat the other side’s Meteor user. Eirika’s paralogue was somewhat tricky at the start, but I used Obstruct to keep both Thieves close by until I could kill them. My party was split on both sides for that, but then had to converge back into the middle, where I held off many of the central enemies with Blazing Lion’s flame terrain. Roy’s mission was much easier than expected, especially compared to the original one it’s based on. I had plenty of wind tomes and bows for all the wyverns, and used Engage Attacks to bypass Roy’s Hold Out. Celica’s paralogue was still a joke just like on Hard, but there was some self-imposed challenge in getting decent exp from it. Leif’s mission was also surprisingly simple - just had to stall out the ballistae with tanks such as Jade, then blocked the bridge area with her, Zelkov and Alear. The many reinforcements posed no threat to those 3 tanks. Marth’s paralogue was quite simple even with the detour to get the items on the left side. Marth’s automatic approach made things easier, and the enemies in his starting area lined up so nicely for my biggest Override attack. Alear’s Pact Ring paralogue was perhaps the hardest mission in the game for me. Although I only ended up using 3 or 4 rewinds, it was harder than Chapter 11 because that one could be 'brute-forced' with high-Avoid Alear rushing to the rewind-recovering point. For this mission I spent a long time considering every move while my party was surrounded from the top and bottom of the map. Most maps in this game have boss-kill objectives to offset the challenge of vast enemy numbers, but this one combines abundant enemies with a rout objective and a lack of safe spots. See the minimap here for the number of enemies: https://i.imgur.com/m6ev72J.jpg. Straight after I defeated the Ring thief, Zelkov used multiple actions per Player Phase to immobilise the southern group of enemies with Corrin’s Dreadful Aura. Amber used Override on the 3 lined-up enemies just above the Ring spot, and at this point my units were all moving down towards the southern area: https://i.imgur.com/jgW9SVa.jpg, https://i.imgur.com/WJhLgm7.jpg. Here’s a clip of Zelkov dominating the southern enemy group without any terrain or support bonuses, while also showing how good Pair Up is: https://youtu.be/mtwW1CNGs-Y?t=158. After clearing out the enemies at the bottom, I then had Zelkov move up to the 3-space-wide area to prevent the enemies from reaching the rest of my units, who stayed at the bottom for most of the mission. Zelkov created fog on each turn, making sure all 3 rows of fog were in front of most enemies to maximise their movement reduction. There were still a few fliers that could bypass this, but not enough of them to cause any major problems. There were a lot more enemy Thieves with Pass, but that skill doesn’t help against movement-reducing terrain. I also used Blazing Lion’s flame terrain for even more movement reduction: https://youtu.be/mtwW1CNGs-Y?t=178. Although most enemies funnelled towards the bottom 3-space-wide area as I intended, some enemies that came from the sides of the map slipped around both sides of the middle area. They were mostly cavalry foes, so I sent some effective-damage users a small distance towards both sides to prevent them from getting close to my vulnerable units at the bottom middle area. Here’s how the map looked near the end, when victory was within sight: https://i.imgur.com/F5bYL8e.jpg. ————— iv. Comparison to Other FE Highest Difficulties ————— The order is from hardest to easiest; this is just my subjective difficulty ranking based on my own experiences. This only includes the games I’ve completed on their highest difficulties - one day I’ll get around to playing more of those modes. Note: I never use 'pay to win' content (DLC or Amiibos) when playing these modes. 1. Awakening: Lunatic+ Classic. Compared to regular Lunatic it’s much more restrictive in terms of viable playstyles, and it seems to necessitate excessive level-grinding to make just a few characters (or even just Robin) very overpowered. I don’t like the way difficulty was handled in this game, as it’s much too easy on the lower difficulties, while the Lunatic modes seem to require heavy exploitation of busted gameplay mechanics, e.g. pair-up and the huge level-up potential even from lower-level enemies. 2. Fates Conquest: Lunatic Classic. It was a satisfying challenge that rewarded my long-term planning. I think Conquest generally handled difficulty better than the other games on this list, as it was more about strategising to deal with enemies that were dangerous due to their positions and/or skills. There were very few grinding opportunities in Conquest - I liked that design choice. Also, many of the enemy positions and skills were designed to punish or restrict tactics such as turtling and luring (e.g. Lunge chains, Seal Def), and there were many interesting map designs and objectives that added to the challenge. The difficulty was fairly consistent until it spiked in the last few chapters, which introduce potent enemy-exclusive skills. 3. Radiant Dawn: Hard mode. It’s called Maniac mode in the Japanese version. As with other FE games the difficulty decreased after the earlygame, but it was for different reasons relating to the game’s chapter structure with separate parties of units. For most units there was less potential to become overpowered, compared to FE Engage. As with older FE games, the difficulty mostly came from long missions that tested my endurance, in terms of not making any fatal tactical errors over many turns. I found Avoid-stacking support bonuses very useful for mitigating threats on Enemy Phase. 4. Binding Blade: Hard mode (route taken: Elphin/Bartre chapters, then Sacae chapters). Compared to modern FE games it’s a bit harder due to the lack of a rewind mechanic, along with RNG issues such as the lower hit rates (I refrained from using axes). There are also a few nasty chapters such as the Fog of War ones (combined with desert movement restrictions and flying enemies!), and quite a few long-distance threats such as 10-range tomes (Bolting), ballistae, and status ailments. The Berserk staff is particularly dangerous. The challenge eased off around one-third into the game, mainly because I’d built up enough support ranks by then to greatly increase some key units’ Hit, Avoid and Crit Avoid. Without support bonuses, the game can be quite unforgiving on Hard due to the RNG. Some bosses are especially hard to hit without Hit bonuses, but if all else fails and you don’t have the right Hit bonuses on the right units, I assume you could resort to using up bosses’ weapon durability with a bulky unit first. 5. Three Houses: Maddening Classic (Blue Lions, non-NG+). It’s somewhat low in this list due to the downhill difficulty curve, which was partly because of the abundant grinding opportunities. I doubt there would be much difficulty difference in the other story paths, as Part 1 gives plenty of time for units to become overpowered in various ways, either offensively or defensively - this is yet another game where Avoid tanking is overpowered, with skills such as the Dancer’s Sword Avoid +20. The difficulty isn’t as hard as its name suggests - the only thing I found remotely maddening was some ambushing Meteor/Bolting reinforcements at the very end. This game’s rewind mechanic—Divine Pulse—is a major factor in making this mode more forgiving; I think the later parts of the game are too generous with the number of Pulses. But the earlygame was certainly challenging due to starting with only 3 rewinds, and not having overpowered skill sets at that point. Gambits that immobilise groups of enemies are very potent throughout the whole game, and bosses are a complete joke as there are so many ways to hit them without being counter-attacked. 6. Engage: Maddening Classic. As noted in the 'Difficulty Analysis’ section, you can build invincible Avoid tanks very easily, and bosses fall quickly when you have multiple chain attackers, poison stacking, and Engage Attacks that can’t be countered, much like Gambits in Three Houses. Although bosses are generally much more formidable than in Three Houses, Engage’s earlygame is more forgiving partly due to the 10 rewinds from the start, compared to 3. While both Three Houses and Engage have crowd-control attacks that immobilise groups of enemies, in Engage you can use these again each time you refill the Engage Meter - there’s no set limit per mission. Overall, Engage provides more ways to effectively deal with both bosses and large groups of enemies, and it’s quite easy to catch up underlevelled units by using chain attacks, etc. 7. Fates Birthright and Fates Revelation: Lunatic Classic. Even if you don’t take advantage of the generous grinding opportunities, these two paths are so much easier than Conquest. They didn’t offer much of an interesting challenge; it was generally too easy to power through the enemies without having to think too much. Although I vaguely remember some of the later maps in Birthright being somewhat challenging, such as the one against Camilla. 8. Echoes: Hard Classic. Only 2 difficulty settings in this game, it really could’ve done with a higher one. The introduction of a rewind mechanic (Mila’s Turnwheel) takes away much of the challenge that would come from player mistakes and having to adapt to RNG outcomes. The gameplay balance was a bit peculiar (e.g. magic being so powerful against all the low-Res units), but there were enough tools to deal with any challenges the game could offer. 9. Path of Radiance: Hard mode (English version). Relatively easy, but it doesn’t really count since there’s also the Japan-exclusive Maniac mode; I would’ve played that mode if I had access to it. As with the sequel Radiant Dawn, Avoid-stacking support bonuses help a lot on Enemy Phase. ————— v. Team Overview (classes, weapon/unit types, teambuilding) ————— Joining chapters and initial classes: Ch 0 Alear (Dragon Child), Ch 2 Framme (Martial Monk), Ch 3 Boucheron (Axe Fighter), Ch 4 Céline (Noble) & Chloé (Lance Flier), Ch 6P Jean (Martial Monk), Ch 7 Alcryst (Lord), Ch 8P Anna (Axe Fighter), Ch 8 Amber (Lance Cavalier) & Diamant (Lord), Ch 9 Jade (Axe Armour), Ch 11 Ivy (Wing Tamer) & Zelkov (Thief), Ch 15 Seadall (Dancer). Emblem Ring main pairings: Marth & Diamant. Sigurd & Amber. Celica & Céline. Micaiah & Chloé. Roy & Boucheron. Leif & Framme. Lucina & Alear. Lyn & Alcryst. Ike & Jade. Byleth & Anna. Corrin & Zelkov. Eirika & Jean. Not paired: Ivy, Seadall. Final-class weapon ranks and class skills: 2 Warriors - Boucheron, *Alcryst* (A axe, C/*B* bow ~ Merciless). 2 Martial Masters - Framme, Jean (S arts, A staff ~ Diffuse Healer). 1 Divine Dragon - Alear (A sword, B arts ~ Divine Spirit). 1 Vidame - Céline (A tome, B sword, B staff ~ Ignis). 1 Lance Hero - Diamant (A sword, C lance ~ Brave Assist). 1 Thief - Zelkov (S knife ~ Pass). 1 Sage - Chloé (S tome, B staff ~ Spell Harmony). 1 High Priest - Anna (S staff, B tome, C arts ~ Self-Healing). 1 Lance General - Jade (A lance ~ Swap). 1 Lindwurm - Ivy (S tome, B staff ~ Grasping Void). 1 Lance Wolf Knight - *Amber* (A knife, *A* lance ~ Hobble). 1 Dancer - Seadall (A arts ~ Special Dance). Final-class weapon type distribution: 6 Staff users: Framme, Céline, Chloé, Jean, Anna, Ivy. 5 Arts users: Alear, Framme, Jean, Anna, Seadall. 4 Tome users: Céline, Chloé, Anna, Ivy. 3 Sword users: Alear, Céline, Diamant. 3 Lance users: Diamant, Amber, Jade. 2 Axe users: Boucheron, Alcryst. 2 Bow users: Boucheron, Alcryst. 2 Knife users: Amber, Zelkov. Final-class unit types: 3 Backup - Boucheron, Alcryst, Diamant. 3 Mystical - Céline, Chloé, Anna. 3 Qi Adept - Framme, Jean, Seadall. 1 Dragon - Alear. 1 Flying - Ivy. 1 Cavalry - Amber. 1 Covert - Zelkov. 1 Armoured - Jade. Support bonus types - A rank: Balanced (Hit +10, Crit +3, Avo +5, Ddg +5): Alear, Chloé. Hit focus (Hit +20, Avo +5): Framme, Alcryst, Jade, Zelkov, Anna. Crit focus (Hit +10, Crit +6, Ddg +5): Boucheron, Diamant, Jean, Seadall. Avo focus (Hit +10, Crit +3, Avo +10): Amber. Ddg focus (Hit +15, Ddg +10): Céline, Ivy. Pact Ring S rank partner: Amber (Hit +10, Crit +3, Avo +20). Support partners: Alear - all. Framme - Boucheron, Chloé, Diamant, Anna. Boucheron - Framme, Alcryst, Zelkov. Céline - Chloé, Alcryst, Jean. Chloé - Framme, Céline, Jean, Amber, Seadall. Jean - Céline, Chloé, Jade, Zelkov. Alcryst - Boucheron, Céline, Diamant, Ivy, Seadall. Anna - Framme, Zelkov. Diamant - Framme, Jade, Alcryst, Amber, Ivy. Amber - Chloé, Diamant, Jade, Zelkov, Seadall. Jade - Diamant, Jean, Amber. Ivy - Diamant, Alcryst, Zelkov. Zelkov - Boucheron, Ivy, Anna, Jean, Amber. Seadall - Chloé, Alcryst, Amber. Teambuilding decisions: My decision to use 14 units was mainly based on that being the highest deployment limit, for the last 4 story missions. Of course it isn’t a requirement to fill all slots with regularly-used units, but in all FE games I like to have a wide variety of weapon types, stat spreads and roles. As there are only 12 equippable Emblem Rings, Seadall and Ivy just used silver Bond Rings instead - the former because of his support-focused Dancer role, the latter because my other tome users were greatly outperforming her, especially in Spd. As such, it seemed better to give the magic-focused Emblems to Céline (Celica) and Chloé (Micaiah) so they’d each have the highest potential to kill full-HP enemies in one round of combat. My first teambuilding priority was to have Avoid tanks for holding chokepoints. It was also important to have competent users of tomes and staves, so I made sure those units got plenty of exp. Having multiple tome users helped against the Def stats which can be surprisingly high even on enemies other than the expected Generals and Great Knights. I also wanted multiple users of staves such as Obstruct, Silence and Freeze, as these can save units from tight situations caused by the large groups of enemies on Maddening. For unit types, I knew I wanted several Backup units so that I could consistently use chain attacks to wear down the many foes that can be very tanky on Maddening. All of my Backup units inherited Dual Assist to help with that, and it’s why I used 2 Warriors for Longbow-range chain attacks. I only used one Flying unit (Ivy), not so much because of the bow/wind weakness, but because in my Hard run there weren’t many situations where I thought fliers would provide a significant tactical advantage. The advantages of fliers are more map-dependent, whereas other unit types have more consistent advantages, e.g. Backup units can always chain attack, Covert units can get +60 Avoid anywhere with Corrin’s Dragon Vein fog, etc. Even with only one flier of my own, I had plenty of ways to deal with enemy fliers approaching from large flier-only areas, e.g. Lyn’s Astra Storm, her Summon Doubles to create meatshields / disposable bait units, Obstruct staves (especially Micaiah’s 5-space Obstructs), Chain Guard, Corrin’s fog, etc. In addition to my characters’ innate proficiencies and initial classes, my character choices were partly due to my tendency to stick with early-joining units; all my combat units joined by the end of Chapter 11. Personal skills were a somewhat important consideration, as their effectiveness varies significantly - e.g. Zelkov’s was better for my purposes than Yunaka’s, and Alcryst’s and Amber’s skills seemed better than most. I also considered the list of support partners for each unit, to ensure that most had at least 3 supporters. That seemed important because of deployment limits before the lategame. The characters I hadn’t used in my Hard run were Boucheron, Alcryst, Anna, Amber, Diamant, Jade and Zelkov - but most of these I expected to be similar to their 'alternatives' that I’d used on Hard, e.g. Louis and Yunaka. My reasons for Emblem Ring unit choices are covered in the 'My Units' section. My choices for final advanced classes were mainly based on having a wide variety of weapon types, while also accounting for stat growths. I didn’t care about S-rank weapons when considering classes, as they appear so late and don’t make much difference compared to engraved + refined lower-rank weapons. I could at least use Nova, which seemed like the best one. Some weapon ranks did matter though, e.g. Amber having the boosted A rank in lances for Brave Lance, and Alcryst’s boosted B rank in bows for Silver Bow. Timing/level for reclassing and promotion: Most of my non-reclassed units promoted from around base class level 17 to 19, as many of them were struggling once promoted enemies became common. For reclassed units, I typically reclassed as soon as I had a Second Seal - partly to ensure their stat growths would align better with their eventual advanced classes, but also because it takes a while to reach level 10 base class for promotion. When Seals were limited, unit priority for reclassing/promotion was based on which units’ final advanced classes I expected to have the most impact as part of my overall team. ————— vi. My Units (deployment, stats, skills, performance) ————— Deployment priority: When deployment limits prevented me from deploying all my units that would be suitable for the current map, I always chose Zelkov, Seadall, Alcryst and Anna - in addition to the mandatory Alear, these four collectively provided the best offense and support, including the Dance + Goddess Dance combo. When possible, I deployed at least 2 staff users so I’d have both healing and support opportunities in the same turn - this often mattered because I used Obstruct quite regularly. I brought at least 2 tome users when there were significant numbers of high-Def enemies. Apart from those factors, any characters with 3-range weapons were also a high priority. I deployed all Ridersbane users for cavalry-heavy maps. Jade was necessary for maps where I’d need all 3 of my tanks to block chokepoints, e.g. a crucial 3-space-wide area. Backup units were always valuable for chain attacks, but Diamant wasn’t as useful as the others beyond that function, so he was the lowest priority of those. Units that currently lacked Emblem Rings were lower priority choices, except Seadall who didn’t need one, Chloé who was already effective without Micaiah, and Zelkov - he was still an effective Avoid tank without Corrin, although it made him more dependent on careful positioning for support and terrain bonuses. Units whose Emblems were currently capped at bond level 10 were a slightly lower priority than those at 20. Unit summaries: For the class pathways I use '>' to indicate reclassing and '>>>' for promotion to advanced classes. The listed Emblem stat boosts are the maximum values, from bond level 19+. Units' final base stats are from the start of the final mission, and these don’t include any of the boosts from Emblems, skills, etc. My units are listed in order from what I considered the most effective to least effective in my run. For that assessment I’m not taking into account the number of chapters they were available; it’s about how impactful they were while I had the option to use them. I tried to rank each unit mainly based on their individual merits, before factoring in how well they synergised with my other units. Keep in mind that my effectiveness rankings don’t necessarily reflect how well these characters would perform with other players’ different team compositions and playstyles, etc. 1. Zelkov Class: Thief Emblem: Corrin (HP +15, Mag +4, Res +3) Final Base Stats: HP 53, Bld 11, Str 30, Mag 6, Dex 34, Spd 37, Def 26, Res 10, Lck 17, Rating 171 Inherited Skills: Dual Support (2000 SP), Speed +4 (1000 SP) 314 Battles, 124 Wins The MVP of my run, although Corrin deserves much of the credit. In my Hard run I had instead used Yunaka as my Thief, also with Corrin - while Zelkov’s Spd is lower, his personal skill suited my purposes much better. With his role as an Enemy Phase lure for large groups of enemies, I usually wanted most enemies left weakened but alive, so my other units could finish them off for exp. Yunaka’s crit-boosting personal skill wouldn’t help with that, and only Zelkov’s skill is still relevant when he can’t counter. Also, his much higher Bld allows him to use a Peshkatz with no penalty, rather than -4 Spd - that weapon was his stronger killing option, mainly used for bosses or non-mage enemies that wouldn’t take enough damage from his Iron Dagger +4. Corrin can make Covert units essentially invincible with +60 Avoid fog from Dragon Vein, especially when combined with weapon engravings for +30 or 40 Avoid. The fog also benefits nearby allies, and it can create a chokepoint area for holding off enemies, due to the extra movement cost of fog spaces. Draconic Hex is great against bosses, so I usually had Zelkov attack them first, then again through Dance and/or Goddess Dance to stack more poison on top of that. The -4 Spd from Draconic Hex is especially useful. Corrin’s Pair Up made Zelkov even better at his role, as enemies still attacked for 0% hit or 0 damage if they could trigger a chain attack, despite it doing nothing against Pair Up. However, in cases where I needed enemy Hit rates to be non-zero to make them attack, Corrin’s +15 HP helped with taking the occasional hit. I sometimes switched between an Iron Dagger, Steel/Silver Dagger and Peshkatz to give enemies the lowest non-zero Hit. I’m surprised at how few enemies had Surge/Elsurge tomes, as this would’ve been an easy design choice to counter Avoid tanking. Even though Mystical enemies ignore Avoid boosts from terrain such as fog, they still had very low hit rates - and once Zelkov reached 2000 SP to inherit Dual Support, he could often lower them to 0% Hit as well. Zelkov was often adjacent to Alear (who was paired with Lucina) to block chokepoints. That enabled Zelkov to be further protected by Lucina’s Bonded Shield, which meant he could attack instead of spending a turn on Dragon Vein. Or in some cases I just used Dance to follow up Zelkov’s attacking turns with Dragon Vein turns, as the fog was more important on Enemy Phase when facing large groups of enemies. Corrin’s Dreadful Aura is also incredible, freezing up to 10 enemies in place with Torrential Roar, or up to 5 with a regular attack. As any single unit can have 4 actions per Player Phase from a Dance + Goddess Dance combo (easy to set up with Canter on a dancer), that makes Corrin amazing at crowd control by freezing multiple enemy groups. With the Thief class’s Pass skill, it’s easy to reach the right enemies in big crowds so you can immobilise all the enemies you need to. If Zelkov or a similar substitute hadn’t been on my team, I would’ve had to play most maps very differently, and I expect it would’ve made most maps much more difficult. 2. Alear (F) Class: Dragon Child >>> Divine Dragon Emblem: Marth until Diamant joined > Lucina from Chapter 11 onwards (Dex +5, Spd +4, Lck +6) Final Base Stats: HP 57, Bld 11, Str 28, Mag 9, Dex 29, Spd 34, Def 27, Res 20, Lck 19, Rating 177 Inherited Skills: Avoid +10 (500 SP), Sword Agility 1 (500 SP) / Pair Up (2000 SP, inherited last, replaced Sword Agility) Pact Ring partner: Amber 345 Battles, 185 Wins Alear was my main Avoid tank before Zelkov joined, with +20 Avoid from Marth’s inherited skills and a further +20 to 40 Avoid from engraved Libération and Iron Blade respectively. She became somewhat overlevelled once she had Lucina’s Parthia bow that doubles exp; I often used it to finish off bosses. As with Zelkov, the Emblem deserves a lot of the credit - Lucina’s Dual Support is well suited to the character who supports with everyone. Although Alear doesn’t deal much damage with a Levin Sword, I often started turns with that weapon equipped for more Dual Assist range. Bonded Shield can save many allies’ lives in cases where there aren’t any nearby chokepoints, and it combines with Corrin’s Dragon Vein fog to make units very safe on Enemy Phase. The lack of a strong 1-2 range weapon made Alear typically inferior to Zelkov on Enemy Phase, at least in the role of a lure for weakening enemies. As such, when the two of them were adjacent, I often equipped Alear with her highest-Avoid weapon while letting Zelkov be hittable by at least some of the nearby enemies, to ensure that they would target him instead. With such high Avoid as well as the Divine Spirit class skill and high Spd to double attack, Alear was able to fill up Lucina’s Engage Meter very easily. That enabled frequent access to Bonded Shield, and Alear’s personal skill also made her a valuable support unit for adjacent allies. In the lategame I didn’t actually use Engage+ much, except against the final boss. The extra Hit/Avoid bonuses from Bond Forger would have often been overkill, although there was the slight benefit of Boon of Elyos enabling even more reliable crits with Alear and Amber’s high-crit weapons: Killing Edge and Peshkatz respectively. Regardless of the benefits of Engage+, I usually preferred regular Engage because I needed Lucina’s capabilities; other units also tended to prefer their usual Emblem benefits, especially Zelkov with Corrin. 3. Anna Class: Axe Fighter > Martial Monk >>> High Priest Emblem: Byleth (Mag +3, Spd +3, Lck +12) Final Base Stats: HP 43, Bld 6, Str 11, Mag 37, Dex 30, Spd 27, Def 12, Res 35, Lck 34, Rating 192 Inherited Skills: Speed +5 (2000 SP), Luck +8 (1000 SP) / Quality Time+ (500 SP, final mission only, replaced Luck +8) 220 Battles, 136 Wins Anna started out terrible but became one of my best units, and not only due to all the gold (tens of thousands) she obtained from her personal skill. First of all, look at her final base stats compared to my other units, and then add the boosts from Byleth and the inherited skills - 54 Luck makes her personal skill and Divine Pulse+ amazing. As her Luck started at just 3, I only attempted gold farming once she had Byleth for his inheritable Luck+ skill and his innate Luck boost. As an Axe Fighter she was only good for Hand Axe chip damage and chain attacks, but then as a Martial Monk it was quick to level her from 1 to 10, thanks to staff usage (mostly healing) and Byleth’s Mentorship skill. Then she finally became a great unit as a High Priest; I chose that class for having the highest Luck growth, 15 higher than the Sage class. Normally I hesitate to switch default physical-class units to magic classes or vice versa, but her Str growth is only 15 compared to 50 for Mag, the highest of any character. The main advantage of the Sage class would’ve been the higher tome rank, but it didn’t matter since Anna eventually became one of my highest-level units, so her Mag was high enough to get the necessary kills with B-rank tomes. Anna never used Arts apart from rare cases of equipping Shielding Art, but she had too many useful options for her 5 inventory slots anyway - Elthunder was essential for outranging more enemies, plus she also used Elwind/Elfire and sometimes Elsurge for higher damage. She also used status-inflicting staves (Freeze, Silence and Fracture) to take advantage of their eventually perfect hit rate from Byleth’s Divine Pulse+. There weren’t many cases where I would’ve preferred Micaiah’s extra area of effect on status staves. Despite being limited to B-rank tomes due to her class, Anna had enough power and speed to reliably kill enemies, especially in conjunction with chain attacks. While Engaged, Anna could use a 5-range Elthunder and 3-range Elsurge thanks to Byleth’s Thyrsus staff (+2 magic range). Elsurge was mostly just used for its high Mt, as accuracy wasn’t an issue once Anna’s Luck was high enough to nearly always trigger Divine Pulse+, making her the most reliable attacker. Byleth’s Goddess Dance is also incredible, particularly for finishing off boss-kill maps - it makes it easy to deplete all the boss HP bars while surrounded by enemies that could otherwise kill units on the next Enemy Phase. This was important because Maddening often involves excessive or endless reinforcements to discourage slow play. 4. Alcryst Class: Lord > Axe Fighter >>> Warrior Emblem: Lyn (Dex +4, Spd +5, Res +3) Final Base Stats: HP 60, Bld 13, Str 30, Mag 5, Dex 28, Spd 29, Def 19, Res 11, Lck 12, Rating 147 Inherited Skills: Dual Assist+ (2000 SP), Speed +4 (1000 SP) 271 Battles, 176 Wins Naturally, Lyn played a large part in making Alcryst so effective. I chose him for Lyn because of his personal skill which makes it very easy to gain +3 Str, and which can combine with the Warrior class’s Merciless skill for massive damage when double- or quad-attacking, with help from Lyn’s huge Spd boosts. It’s also easy to trigger Alcryst’s personal skill when foes attack summoned doubles. Another reason why I chose the Backup-type Warrior class is because Dual Assist+ is amazing on a Longbow-wielding Warrior for 8-range chain attacks. Alacrity made him a great mage killer even with the relatively weak Longbow. Lyn’s summoned doubles were useful as meatshields for Alcryst, as he didn’t have many Enemy Phase options other than a Hand Axe and Brave Axe. Alcryst mostly used a Silver Bow on Player Phase, which set him apart from Boucheron who was capped at C-rank bows. Speed +4 may have been overkill on top of Speedtaker and Lyn’s innate stat boosts, but some lategame enemies are exceptionally fast. Astra Storm was very useful for luring bosses, although in many cases they eventually approach you anyway after a certain number of turns. It was also good for killing fliers that were out of reach while on flier-only terrain; my only flier was Ivy, who was slow and generally couldn’t one-shot those enemies with her wind tomes. Another use for Astra Storm was to deal with problematic staff users that were too far away for any of my units to safely kill or Silence them - this included the few Entrap enemies in the lategame. It was definitely worth getting through 10 levels as an Axe Fighter to become a Warrior, and Alcryst actually performed quite well as an Axe Fighter; his high Dex was good for axes, and Backup units are always useful for chain attacks. 5. Chloé Class: Lance Flier > Mage >>> Sage Emblem: Micaiah (Mag +4, Res +5, Lck +6) Final Base Stats: HP 43 (capped), Bld 7, Str 12, Mag 32, Dex 29, Spd 29, Def 14, Res 27, Lck 21, Rating 171 Inherited Skills: Speedtaker (2000 SP), Speed +3 (500 SP) 225 Battles, 134 Wins Just like Anna, Chloé went from an initial physical class to being one of my best tome users. She was decent for a few early missions as a Lance Flier, but by the time she promoted from level 10 Mage to Sage, she was already becoming one my best units even without an Emblem - unfortunately Micaiah is absent for a long time. When Micaiah returned, Chloé then had amazing support capabilities with staves, such as 5-space Obstructs and Rescues, and 4-space Warps. I didn’t use status-inflicting staves as much with her, as there weren’t many cases where I would’ve preferred a larger area of effect instead of the reliable staff Hit rate from Anna with Byleth. Micaiah further enhanced Chloé’s offensive prowess with extra Mag and the Thani tome, which is naturally much stronger than a Ridersbane against Great Knights. Also, Micaiah’s Great Sacrifice is an amazing healing ability with an easily-mitigated drawback; even if you can’t stay out of enemy range while at 1 HP, you could still protect her with Chain Guard or Bonded Shield for instance. Although it took a long time to afford Speedtaker as Chloé’s first inherited skill, it was worth the wait. I gave the Nova tome to Chloé in the hope that her Spd boosts would provide many quad-attack opportunities, but it didn’t end up mattering much. Chloé’s personal skill is also fairly easy to trigger, and +2 damage per hit is good on a fast unit, especially with a quad hit from Nova. 6. Amber Class: Lance Cavalier >>> Wolf Knight (Lance) Emblem: Sigurd (Dex +4, Def +4, Bld +3, Mov +1) Final Base Stats: HP 52, Bld 12 (capped), Str 29, Mag 4, Dex 25, Spd 27, Def 20, Res 11, Lck 26, Rating 154 Inherited Skills: Speedtaker (2000 SP), Speed +4 (1000 SP) 253 Battles, 149 Wins Even while in his initial class, Amber performed better than I expected. His personal skill often helped against high-Avoid enemies, and I chose the Wolf Knight class mostly for knives, which also contributed to his high Hit rates as they’re very accurate weapons. It was useful having a second knife user - primarily for the reliable and strong 1-2 range Silver Dagger, but it also provided chances for stacking poison on bosses. Otherwise Amber’s ranged options would’ve been limited to heavy and less-accurate Spears, or weak Javelins. The Wolf Knight’s Hobble skill almost never mattered, but it does pair well with Sigurd’s Canter (ideally with a Dancer as well) for 'hit and run' tactics. I never really ended up needing such tactics though, thanks to Zelkov & Corrin’s amazing crowd control. Sigurd was an obvious Emblem choice for my only Cavalry unit, and Momentum makes it easier to inflict poison on high-Def foes that might otherwise take 0 damage from daggers. However, that didn’t matter much as I had plenty of tome users. Momentum worked especially well with a Brave Lance, Ridersbane or Silver Greatlance - the latter was mainly used with Override, for maximum damage with that Engage Attack. Although in some cases Amber instead used a Ridersbane for Override, to one-hit kill multiple cavalry foes. Amber’s refined and engraved Brave Lance and Ridersbane were much better than Sigurd’s versions of those weapons. Speedtaker triggers for every defeated foe from multi-target Engage Attacks such as Override, so it was worth saving up SP for it - I sometimes kept lined-up enemies alive at low HP to maximise Speedtaker boosts: https://youtu.be/mtwW1CNGs-Y?t=195. Amber was somewhat underwhelming for a while in the midgame when Sigurd was gone, but when Sigurd returned he quickly caught up in levels (eventually overtaking most units) and became one of my better units. Also, Sigurd’s boost to Bld helped with the heavy lances that Amber was often using, e.g. with getting Brave Lance quad-hits thanks to Speedtaker as well. My choice of Amber as Alear’s Pact Ring partner didn’t matter much, but I figured the extra +10 Avoid was more useful than most other units’ S-rank support bonuses. He could at least make good use of Boon of Elyos from Alear’s Engage+, with a refined and engraved Peshkatz for very reliable crit rates. 7. Jean Class: Martial Monk >>> Martial Master Emblem: Eirika (Mag +3, Dex +4, Lck +10) Final Base Stats: HP 42, Bld 7, Str 21, Mag 27, Dex 22, Spd 21, Def 22, Res 30, Lck 20, Rating 170 Inherited Skills: Speed +4 (1000 SP), Mentorship (250 SP) / Divine Pulse+ (500 SP, replaced Mentorship in lategame) 79 Battles, 65 Wins I hadn’t used Jean in my Hard run, but I expected great things from him based on previous FE games’ characters of the same archetype. I knew he wouldn’t be powerful until he had Flashing Fist Art (refined from the Silver-Spirit Art obtained in Chapter 14), and his eventual power also depended on having Eirika after Chapter 16. But it was worth the wait, as Eirika’s skills make Flashing Fist Art very powerful against any type of enemy. That applies especially to high-Def foes as their stat works against them, and the damage is even greater when Engaged and especially when quad-hitting. Low-Def enemies were also absolutely obliterated by Jean’s multiple hits on Player Phase. I never considered any other class, as I wanted both offense (Flashing Fist Art) and utility through Chain Guard and staves. Those utility functions made Jean useful right from the start, well before he gained that crucial weapon and Eirika. He also became surprisingly tanky thanks to Shielding Art and Eirika’s Gentility+, although he wasn’t well suited to Enemy Phase combat. Eirika was one of the trickier Emblems to use effectively, but I think Jean benefitted from all of her attributes - he had enough Str and Mag to competently use both her physical Engage Weapons and her magic Wind Sword, which was his only ranged attack. When Engaged, healing by dealing damage is also useful for regaining full HP for Chain Guard. I didn’t use Twin Strike much, as Flashing Fist Art often had more damage potential, e.g. by hitting 4 times. Eirika’s innate stat boosts included +10 Luck which was good for bolstering Flashing Fist Art’s reliability with Divine Pulse+. That meant I could save the Hit-boosting weapon engravings for other weapons. Before inheriting Divine Pulse+, I used Mentorship since Jean’s role was more support-focused than most, mainly before Eirika’s higher bond levels were unlocked. Once I had max-bond Eirika it was then more worthwhile for Jean to attack, and by that point I had plenty of other healing methods among my team anyway. Unlocking the higher bond levels also granted access to Sieglinde, which is a great Engage Weapon due to effective damage on Corrupted, i.e. almost every non-boss enemy in the lategame. It’s worth noting that some of Jean’s stats were essentially much higher due to Eirika’s skills - he was both bulkier and stronger than his stats alone would suggest. Here’s an example of the huge damage potential: https://youtu.be/mtwW1CNGs-Y?t=214. 8. Jade Class: Axe Armour >>> General (Lance) Emblem: Ike (HP +7, Str +4, Def +5) Final Base Stats: HP 64, Bld 15, Str 29, Mag 11, Dex 25, Spd 13, Def 40, Res 14, Lck 10, Rating 157 Inherited Skills: Pair Up (2000 SP), Hit +15 (1000 SP) 169 Battles, 72 Wins In my Hard run I had used Louis as my General (also with Ike), who performed very well despite some Hit issues. Jade’s personal skill was inferior, and her growths aren’t as optimal for her class, but I figured that having too much Def (if I’d used Louis again) might be a problem by preventing more foes from attacking. However, I didn’t know that enemies on Maddening would still attempt chain attacks with a 0-damage main attacker against a Pair Up unit. Nevertheless, only some enemies are Backup units, and Jade’s lower Def meant she could get more enemies to attack her while using Ike’s Ragnell for 1-2 range and +5 Def. Her survivability against physical attacks was excellent once she triggered Ike’s Resolve+ below 75% HP, for +7 Def/Res. The Res boost wasn’t enough to make her safe against multiple magic attackers though. Pair Up was a massive boost to her survivability, making her very useful against groups of Backup foes. Jade’s offense generally wasn’t great, due to shaky accuracy until inheriting Hit+ (which was late in the game after Pair Up), and no doubling except on some sword-wielding enemies that have Triangle Adept. But while Engaged she could hit hard with Urvan, so she could at least deal respectable damage with Great Aether. Here’s an example of Jade at her absolute best, both defensively and offensively: https://youtu.be/mtwW1CNGs-Y?t=233. I’m glad I chose a third tank to supplement my Avoid tanks Alear and Zelkov - there were quite a few situations where I needed 3 units to block a chokepoint, or to block multiple areas at once. The movement skills Reposition and Swap were also quite useful. I went Lance General for more accurate weapons than Axe General, and also because Ridersbane is one of the better effective-damage weapons. I ruled out swords, as the effective-damage swords (Wyrmslayer and Armourslayer) are less useful because bows and tomes exist. Also, Javelins are more reliable than Hand Axes, which mattered as Jade was using a Javelin regularly. I never really considered Great Knight for her class, as I wanted Ike’s Armoured bonuses and the break immunity, while also lacking the cavalry weakness. 9. Boucheron Class: Axe Fighter >>> Warrior Emblem: Roy (HP +10, Str +6, Res +3) Final Base Stats: HP 64, Bld 17, Str 25, Mag 1, Dex 28, Spd 27, Def 20, Res 12, Lck 10, Rating 140 Inherited Skills: Dual Assist (1000 SP), Speed +4 (1000 SP) 280 Battles, 111 Wins Boucheron has unusually low Str growth for his default class line, but I didn’t find it to be much of an issue - for instance, his personal skill regularly provided +2 damage per hit. Boucheron was initially relegated to Hand Axe chip damage and chain attacks on Player Phase, but he eventually became a solid all-around unit (decent offensively and defensively) when Roy finally returned. By the time he had enough support ranks to fix the accuracy of stronger axes, he was mostly using a 100-Hit weapon anyway: a Binding-engraved Iron Bow +5. That was his most reliable bow due to his C-rank bow cap as a Warrior, which is one reason why he was inferior to my other Warrior, Alcryst. But Boucheron at least had the same 8-range chain attacks with Dual Assist, when equipped with a Longbow. When Engaged with Roy, the level boost from Rise Above combined with the Speed +4 skill for decent doubling potential, at least against Draconic Hexed enemies. Roy’s Hold Out+++ and Binding Blade (+5 Def/Res) also made Boucheron more effective as a fourth tank, but he couldn’t compete with my 3 main tank units. Blazing Lion was mainly used as a backup chokepoint-creating method - flame terrain has a movement cost of 3 compared to 2 for fog, but it can only be used once per Engage, whereas Corrin’s Dragon Vein fog can be used every turn even without being Engaged. 10. Céline Class: Noble >>> Vidame Emblem: Celica (Str +3, Mag +5, Res +4) Final Base Stats: HP 39, Bld 6, Str 21, Mag 21, Dex 26, Spd 26, Def 16, Res 24, Lck 33, Rating 173 Inherited Skills: Alacrity (1000 SP), Speed +5 (2000 SP) 198 Battles, 121 Wins I mainly chose Céline due to her impressive performance on Hard, but this time she fell off more significantly after losing Celica - even when Celica returned, she was inferior to Anna and Chloé as a tome user. When combined with chain attacks, Alacrity at least allowed her to safely kill Generals or Great Knights that could counter, rather than just hitting them once with Thoron. I very rarely made use of her Str, as I had much better mage killers. Céline at least provided extra staff utility for when my other staff users needed to attack on a given turn. Her supportive role also included her personal skill that helped a few times in the earlygame, which was the only time I regularly used healing items. When Engaged with Celica, Echo was very useful for triggering absurd amounts of chain attacks. As you can give 4 actions per Player Phase to a single unit via Dance + Goddess Dance, that means you can use Echo for 8 rounds of chain attacks. Warp Ragnarok is one of the weaker Engage Attacks, so I mainly used it to hit bosses without missing or being countered. Although Céline was a bit underwhelming after the earlygame, I’m not sure who else I’d use instead if I did another run - I’d probably have to resist my tendency to stick with units that join early on. 11. Seadall Class: Dancer Emblem: None Final Base Stats: HP 48, Bld 10, Str 21, Mag 7, Dex 22, Spd 32, Def 19, Res 21, Lck 25, Rating 157 Inherited Skills: Canter+ (2000 SP), Mentorship (250 SP) / Quality Time+ (500 SP, replaced Mentorship in lategame) 4 Battles, 0 Wins Seadall used Dance at least 99% of the time, to the point where I’d mostly forgotten that he could Chain Guard. Mentorship was a useful support skill for a non-combat unit to benefit allies with, and Canter is amazing on a Dancer - among many other uses, it made it easy to position him for dance combos with Byleth’s Goddess Dance. Canter also helped Seadall avoid danger - he only had 4 battles in the whole run. But Seadall could’ve taken hits when necessary, thanks in part to Shielding Art and high Spd to avoid doubles. The free healing from Seadall’s personal skill worked well with Roy’s Hold Out+++ skill on Boucheron, and with bringing Jean/Framme back to full HP for Chain Guard. The +3 Spd from Special Dance was useful in combination with Corrin’s Draconic Hex to help allies deal with very fast enemies. In the lategame, Quality Time+ added even more healing. It’s hard to rank Seadall against other units due to his purely supportive role - although he’s low in this character list, I deployed him every time I could. I guess I ranked him low because he can only be useful himself when he’s within range of another unit that can be useful from their current position - that’s why Canter was so valuable. In other words, his own effectiveness was more context-dependent compared to other units, and that also depended on my other units being effective already. 12. Ivy Class: Wing Tamer >>> Lindwurm Emblem: None Final Base Stats: HP 44, Bld 9, Str 12, Mag 30, Dex 21, Spd 21, Def 21, Res 30, Lck 6, Rating 150 Inherited Skills: Alacrity (1000 SP), Speed +3 (500 SP) 106 Battles, 68 Wins I expected Ivy to be great again after my Hard run, but this time she struggled to keep up with my other tome users, especially in terms of Spd. Compared to Anna and Chloé, Ivy’s higher Bld wasn’t enough to offset that disadvantage, and higher Def didn’t matter much on a somewhat slow unit with a bow weakness. I had hoped she’d be able to inherit Speedtaker at least, but she was struggling to gain much SP. I don’t like the idea of keeping her default Emblem Lyn on her though, as she doesn’t have the Str for Lyn’s physical Engage Weapons. Ivy also has terrible Luck which makes her very vulnerable to crits, but this wasn’t much of an issue once I regained access to the Echoes engraving, which I applied to a Bolganone tome. Ivy’s personal skill didn’t matter much as she could just Elsurge high-Avoid foes. With Alacrity she had just barely enough Spd to double enemy Generals before they could counter, so she was at least reliable as a General killer (aided by chain attacks) and a powerful Thoron user. It was also helpful having another staff user for when my better tome users were attacking. 13. Diamant Class: Lord > Sword Fighter >>> Hero (Lance) Emblem: Marth (Str +3, Dex +4, Spd +4) Final Base Stats: HP 53, Bld 12, Str 23, Mag 5, Dex 21, Spd 28, Def 20, Res 14, Lck 18, Rating 141 Inherited Skills: Dual Assist (1000 SP), Speed +4 (1000 SP) 186 Battles, 102 Wins I didn’t know what to expect as I hadn’t used Diamant on Hard, but I assumed he would be good as one of the 4 main royals. I chose not to use his default class line as I didn’t expect to get much value from a chance-based healing skill (Sol), especially as I had so many other healing options. I also wanted 3 lance users rather than a third axe user - not only for the better accuracy, but also for Ridersbane and for dealing with the fast sword enemies that can be doubled due to their Triangle Adept skill. I chose the Hero class mainly for the Brave Assist skill, although in hindsight it may have been better to just replace Framme (my weakest unit overall) with an extra Backup unit, for the same purpose of having more chain attacks. Diamant’s personal skill paired well with useful weapons such as the Ridersbane, and made him very reliable with swords. It meant I didn’t need to use the Hit-boosting engravings on his weapons. His Str was disappointingly low, so I mainly used him for cavalry-slaying with Ridersbane, or with a refined Steel Sword against magic users. He was usually one of my first units to move on each Player Phase, so I could place him in Javelin range of several enemies for Brave Assist. Ideally he would’ve earned enough SP to upgrade to Dual Assist+, but I figured that Speed+ would help consistently rather than just increasing the chance of something. I had to fit Marth somewhere on my team, and I reasoned that since Marth is absent for so long, he should go on a unit that I wasn’t expecting to play a major role. Marth was more useful in the earlygame (up until his absence), with Blade-equipped Lodestar Rush dealing much-needed heavy damage to bosses. Although Diamant’s personal skill hinders Marth’s Perceptive, an Avoid-boosting skill isn’t as helpful when it only applies on Player Phase, and it isn’t enough of a boost to be reliable anyway. 14. Framme Class: Martial Monk >>> Martial Master Emblem: Leif (HP +7, Def +3, Bld +5) Final Base Stats: HP 37, Bld 6, Str 16, Mag 17, Dex 17, Spd 21, Def 14, Res 20, Lck 15, Rating 126 Inherited Skills: Speed +4 (1000 SP), Mentorship (250 SP) / Reposition (200 SP, replaced Mentorship in lategame) 31 Battles, 21 Wins Framme must’ve been RNG-blessed in my Hard run, as I expected much more from her - notice how much lower her stats are compared to my other units. I used her partly because I tend to stick with units that join early, and her personal skill was useful for giving Alear +10 Avoid in the earlygame at least. That became irrelevant once Alear had excessive Avoid, which was as early as obtaining the Dawn weapon engraving upon clearing Chapter 6. Framme was the only staff user until Jean joined, but Jean gradually overtook her in Mag, Def and Res, making him the better healer and also being bulkier thanks to Eirika’s skills. I figured Leif would be suitable for Framme mainly because of the Bld boost, to use Flashing Fist Art (9 Wt) with no Spd penalty so it would have more quad-hit potential, at least with external help such as Draconic Hex and Special Dance. I also figured that Leif’s defensive boosts would help Framme survive counter-attacks so she could actually make the follow-up hits. That worked out reasonably well, but even with Flashing Fist Art’s +5 Spd she wasn’t particularly fast. The bigger issue was her low Str which Leif doesn’t boost at all, and unlike Jean she lacked Eirika’s skills that enabled Jean’s massive damage with the same weapon. Framme’s low power was at least enough to KO tome users, but that isn’t saying much - merely Breaking tome users wouldn’t be very useful as better units should be able to one-round KO them with the right physical weapons. There’s another reason why I gave Leif to one of my weakest units: I found Leif to be one of the least effective Emblems, at least for my playstyle and my team. His defensive aspects are outclassed by Ike, and his set of Engage Weapons is hard to use effectively due to high Wt, low Hit, or magic damage in the Light Brand’s case. Even the Vantage skill had very limited usefulness for me, as I always aimed to finish off any enemies in range of my vulnerable units, rather than just leaving the enemies at low HP where Vantage could potentially kill them first on Enemy Phase. Once I had plenty of healers and passive healing methods, Framme was only useful as an extra Chain Guard user and staff supporter, e.g. with Obstruct. So she was usually my lowest priority for deployment after the earlygame, and I regret using her past that point - in hindsight it probably would’ve been better to use a third Warrior for even more chain attacks. On that note, chain attacks at least gave Framme some offensive uses even when she was dealing zero or near-zero damage herself. Compared to my other units she depended much more on external support to deal any decent damage, e.g. Alear’s personal skill or enemy debuffs such as poison and Corrin’s Draconic Hex. Here’s an uncommon example of Framme dominating against a non-magic enemy: https://youtu.be/mtwW1CNGs-Y?t=259. ————— vii. Weapon Engravings ————— Some of the engravings had a big impact by making certain units’ roles much more effective, especially the big Avoid bonuses. For the few engravings that have significant drawbacks such as major Wt increases or Avoid drops, this rarely mattered as I was often able to just trade-equip units back to their other weapons after their action (see my notes on trade-equipping in the 'Difficulty Analysis' section). The following are the main weapons I used each engraving on, but some were briefly used on other weapons as well. Beginnings: Javelin +1 (until getting Nova in the lategame) mainly used by Jade / Nova +2 mainly used by Chloé. Jade appreciated the slight Hit boost as her accuracy wasn’t ideal, and Nova benefits from Hit, Mt and Crit with no extra Wt. However, there still weren’t many notable cases where I could actually quad-hit enemies with it. Echoes: Hand Axe +2 (from earlygame until getting Bolganone) mainly used by Boucheron / Bolganone +1 mainly used by Ivy. Boucheron was one of my best defensive units in the earlygame before I had reliable Avoid tanks, and as a lure on Enemy Phase he appreciated the crit immunity. Ivy benefitted from +50 Dodge due to her terrible Luck, although I tried to keep her away from any strong hits anyway. Holy: Libération +5 (until the Fire engraving was available) / Brave Lance +2 mainly used by Amber. For most of the game, Alear mainly switched between equipping Libération for kills or heavy damage, to a Dawn-engraved Iron Blade (+40 Avoid) for maximising survivability. Once Alear had better options later in the game, Amber at that point had enough Spd-boosting skills to quad-hit with the Brave Lance, so he liked the Mt boost with no drawbacks - the +20 Avoid also stacked well with support bonuses and Amber’s boosted Speed. Genealogy: Flashing Fist Art +4 (until lategame) used by Jean / Ridersbane +3 used by Diamant or Jade. The Mt boost with only a +1 Wt drawback was useful for Flashing Fist Art, as Brave-effect weapons can benefit the most from added damage per hit. The Hit boost was to ensure it could reliably hit 4 times, although later I had Jean inherit Divine Pulse+ for that purpose, once his Luck was sufficiently high. Then I moved this engraving to one of the 3 Ridersbanes I was using, as effective-damage weapons are also a good choice for increased Mt and Hit. This made Diamant much better at fighting cavalry such as high-Avoid Wolf Knights, as it stacked with +15 Hit from his personal skill. Binding: Thunder (until Roy returned) used by Céline and Chloé / Iron Bow +5 used by Boucheron. The +8 Wt is why I put it on a weapon that can’t double and that outranges most weapons to avoid counter-attacks. It also could’ve gone on one of Jade’s weapons since a General doesn’t care much about Spd. When Roy returned, Boucheron became much more effective by mainly using the engraved Iron Bow. As he’s capped at C-rank bows as a Warrior, I wanted a very accurate weapon (a +5 Iron weapon is very reliable) that would also have good Mt for heavy damage to fliers. The -30 Avoid hardly mattered as Boucheron was synced with Roy who gives the Hold Out skill, and I could often just trade-equip Boucheron with his other weapons after he used the Bow. Blazing: Killing Edge +3 used by Alear (until Fire engraving was available to replace it on that weapon) / Peshkatz +2 used by Amber. I always prefer to stack more Crit on weapons that already have high Crit, as the goal is to make them as reliable as possible for getting kills or damage thresholds that wouldn’t be possible with any other weapons. With this engraving, the Killing Edge was then used by Alear more often than Libération when going for kills or trying to maximise damage. When available, the Fire engraving was superior for this purpose as it has less of a Mt drop and also +20 Avoid for Alear who was one of my two Avoid tanks. After that replacement, Amber then used Blazing for a high-crit Peshkatz +2, which could gain even more Crit from Boon of Elyos since Amber was my Pact Ring partner. Sacred: Brave Axe +2 used by Alcryst. Alcryst could easily quad-hit anything as he was synced with Lyn, so I wanted to make the four hits reliable with the +40 Hit, and +20 Crit over four hits provides a good chance of getting kills in cases where extra damage is necessary. This weapon was best used while adjacent to Alear for +3 damage per hit, and against bosses with -4 Def from Corrin’s Draconic Hex. Radiance: Ridersbane +4 used by Amber or Jade, mainly depending on which of them were deployed. The +3 Mt would be ideal for Brave-effect weapons if not for the +15 Wt, so it was better suited to slow units; Jade as a General doesn’t mind that drawback. Amber sometimes used it because of the effective damage combined with +3 Mt and Sigurd’s Momentum skill, which enabled him to reach one-hit kill thresholds against many cavalry foes. That was especially useful for one-hit killing multiple cavalry foes in one Override attack - here’s the 'perfect Override’ clip that was also linked in a previous section: https://youtu.be/mtwW1CNGs-Y?t=38. Dawn: Iron Blade (until obtaining a Silver Blade) / Silver Blade / Wille Glanz +2 (final mission only), all used by Alear. The +40 Avoid makes this engraving amazing, and although I rarely saw any need for smash attacks, it seemed reasonable to maximise Avoid on smash weapons as the enemy always strikes first against them. The high Avoid made the Iron/Silver Blade Alear’s usual weapon of choice when luring groups of enemies by herself, or when she was adjacent to allies but I wanted the AI to target anyone but Alear - e.g. because my other units were equipped with weapons better suited for counterattacks on Enemy Phase. The -3 Mt didn’t matter as much on weapons that can’t double, and since these weapons were most often used for luring, it was often ideal to leave some enemies alive anyway, so my other units could finish them off for exp. Awakening: Iron Dagger +4 used by Zelkov. With only a -1 Mt drawback for +30 Hit and Avoid, this engraving was incredibly effective. Before Zelkov reached 2000 SP to inherit Dual Support, it was one of the main reasons why he was nearly unhittable even without terrain bonuses, such as the fog he could create from Corrin’s Dragon Vein. The Avoid also made Zelkov my best mage killer, being able to double and kill at 1-2 range without taking damage. As Zelkov was my best Enemy Phase unit, it was useful having 100% Hit against almost everything since he fought so many enemies; even a slightly lower hit rate could’ve added up to several impactful misses over so many fights. The reliable hit rate also ensured that poison status was spread to many enemies, and it helped when fighting enemy Covert units that gained +60 Avoid from Zelkov’s own fog. Fates: Peshkatz +3 used by Zelkov. As the damage from Zelkov’s Iron Dagger +4 fell off a bit throughout the game, and high-Def enemies couldn’t be poisoned with 0 damage from the Dagger, Zelkov greatly benefitted from a stronger weapon that could consistently get kills thanks to the +30 Crit. This engraving also provides +10 Avoid - while that’s lower than the +30 from Zelkov’s Iron Dagger, sometimes it was just the right amount to turn an enemy’s 0% hit rate into a low non-zero chance, so that the AI would actually attack and get countered. Academy: Thoron +1 used by Céline, Chloé or Ivy, mainly depending on which of them were deployed, as there was some overlap in their roles. Anna was stuck with Elthunder due to her B-rank tome cap as a High Priest. Since Thoron is a powerful attack that can’t double, it’s important for it to consistently hit. The reliability from +30 Hit still mattered when using Thoron from beyond an enemy’s counterattack range, because in those cases it was often intended to weaken them (in conjunction with chain attacks) so my next attacker could finish off the enemy without being countered. Also, the +2 Wt didn’t matter much on a single-hit weapon that’s already very heavy for tome users, and I often trade-equipped after using it anyway. Fire: Killing Edge +3 used by Alear. Although it doesn’t provide quite as much Crit as the Fates engraving, the +20 Avoid contributed to a nice balance of offensive and defensive bonuses when using Alear as an Enemy Phase lure. It meant she could reliably kill several enemies in a single Enemy Phase while being reasonably safe due to low enemy hit rates. This was particularly helpful with the group of enemies in the middle room of Chapter 25, although I had above-average luck with the RNG there. ————— viii. Somniel, Smithy and Shopping ————— To maximise your units’ potential in each battle, you unfortunately need to spend a lot of time in the Somniel between every mission. It was nowhere near as tedious as my Monastery routine for Three Houses Maddening, but I wish they’d make all the gameplay-affecting activities skippable. I complete all the gameplay-affecting activities every time, as I don’t want any extra difficulty in battles to be the result of simply not spending as much time playing. However, it wasn’t necessary since Maddening isn’t as tough as many other FE games' highest difficulty (see the 'Comparison to Other FE Highest Difficulties' section). Final reserves of Bond Fragments and gold: My run finished with 17,982 Bond Fragments remaining (ignoring the Update Bonus that I refused to use), despite the heavy investment into Lyn’s bond levels. I had 8,059 gold left when I was satisfied that I had everything I needed for the final boss. I’m not sure how much gold Anna earned with her personal skill throughout the game, but it would’ve been several times that much. Item Shop: My first gold-spending priority (before anything else such as the Armoury) was to buy enough Heal staves that I wouldn’t run out, then Master/Second Seals when any of my units were nearly ready to change classes, then the limited Freeze staves, then enough Obstruct staves for all my deployed staff users, then a Fracture staff if I’d nearly depleted my only one left. As a lower priority I then bought HP Tonics for my 3 main tanks: Alear, Zelkov and Jade. I eventually bought more finite-supply staves—Warp, Rescue and Entrap—but I never depleted my stock of any of those. After receiving 50,000 gold at the end of Chapter 20, I no longer had to be as frugal, so I bought all types of Tonics for most of my units that regularly engaged in combat. Armoury: Usually the Item Shop was a higher priority when I was low on gold, as most units had enough basic weapons - but some specific weapons were a high priority, especially the 3-range weapons (Longbow and the Thunder-type tomes). In the earlygame I bought some high-accuracy weapons such as the Compact Axe for Boucheron, to compensate for not having maximum Hit support bonuses at that point. Javelins and Hand Axes were also a high priority due to 1-2 range and not having much of a drawback in this game. Ridersbanes were the only effective-damage weapons I needed other than bows and wind tomes; not much need for Armour or Dragon effectiveness when I had several tome and bow wielders. Donations: I raised the donation level to 2 for Firene, Brodia and Solm, all as soon as possible - skipped Elusia as those missions are mostly later in the game. I had more than enough Bond Fragments, so it was mainly for the extra Ingots. Anna’s personal skill eventually made up for the donation costs, and when refining weapons I was usually limited by a lack of Ingots rather than gold. Smithy: For engravings, see the 'Weapon Engravings' section. For refining, I first prioritised weapons that would be used the most and would consistently hit twice, e.g. Libération, Zelkov’s Iron Dagger, Longbows. Then I refined effective-damage weapons to maximise their potential to reach significant damage thresholds. Due to diminishing returns with higher levels of refinement, I only went up to +3 or higher with a few impactful weapons such as Libération, Killing Edge, Ridersbanes, Iron Dagger, Iron Bow. Flea Market: As soon as the cheapest gift items were available (10 or 20 gold each), I maxed out Alear’s support level with every unit in my party. This was worthwhile due to Alear’s Dual Support skill from synced Lucina, and Anna’s personal skill easily covered the gift costs. Ring Chamber: From most of the Emblems I only created one Bond Ring - the stat boosts are small enough that I didn’t feel the need to try for optimal Bond Rings. Once I had the 12 Emblem Rings, only 2 of my 14 units were still using Bond Rings at that point anyway. Arena: For the guaranteed 30 exp that could be gained here between each mission, I first prioritised units that were near promotion or reclassing, or close to advanced class level 5 if the class skill was important. Then I mostly gave exp to Alear and Zelkov despite their higher levels than my other units - this was because they faced the most combat, so every stat point mattered more often. Normally there would be diminishing returns when making units even more overlevelled, but it was very useful having enough Spd to double even the fastest enemies, and every point of damage helps on units that weaken groups of enemies during Enemy Phase. I generally had more than enough Bond Fragments to cap every deployed unit’s bond level with their Emblems as soon as possible, both for the level 10 and level 20 caps. I also had more than enough Fragments to reach the bond levels needed for inheriting skills. Most of the Fragments were used on Lyn due to her potent skills to inherit: Speed+ and Speedtaker. Café: For cooking I always chose the Potted Casserole (Spd +2, Def +1, Res +1) or Candied Fruits (Mag +1, Spd +2, Res +1). I gave the packed meals to Céline when her Emblem Celica was available (due to Celica’s Favourite Food skill), otherwise they went to Zelkov as he was my main tank and he always had enough inventory space. Farmyard: Exclusively for dogs once I had enough of them, as they’re the only animals that give Ingots. Training Yard: I always chose push-ups for +2-3 Strength - HP wasn’t as useful for Alear with her extremely high Avoid. Also, when using weapons such as the Killing Edge in particular, every extra point of damage was significant. Also, I always played the highest available difficulty of Wyvern Ride for Bond Fragments. Fishing: I always did the maximum amount of fishing for Bond Fragments, with the highest available level of rod. Recreation (Pool, Stables, Orchard): For support points I first prioritised units based on their amount of expected combat (e.g. high priority for my tanks Zelkov and Jade), then on factors such as Hit support for axe users or other users of inaccurate weapons. Alear was the lowest priority since she could easily reach A-rank with everyone once the Flea Market opened and had the cheapest gifts. ————— ix. Allocation of Permanent Stat-Boost Items ————— HP - Seraph Robe: Mainly went to Jade; Alear and Zelkov didn’t need HP as much since they tanked by avoiding most attacks, whereas Jade tanked by taking minimal damage. Str - Energy Drop: Zelkov. With the 1-2 range of Daggers, plus his near-invincibility and high Spd for doubling, he dealt out the most attacks of any unit. So he got the most value from extra damage, to weaken many enemies on Enemy Phase so my other units could finish them off. Higher Str also helped to ensure non-zero knife damage against high Def, in order to inflict poison on bulky enemies. Mag - Spirit Dust: Chloé, as she was my fastest and overall best tome user. She was also synced with Micaiah who provides the devastating Thani tome, so I wanted to maximise her offensive prowess. Dex - Secret Book: Céline. Most units didn’t have any major Hit issues once most of the support ranks were attained, so I just increased Céline’s chance of triggering Ignis. Spd - Speedwing: Zelkov. His Spd growth is relatively low for a Thief, so I patched it up with Speedwings and Lyn’s Speed +4 skill. Dealing double attacks was most important for him, due to the his role as an Enemy Phase lure for weakening groups of enemies. Lck - Goddess Icon: Anna, to get gold more often from her personal skill. This stat also contributed to her eventual perfect accuracy with Byleth’s Divine Pulse+ skill. Def - Dracoshield: Jade, for the same reasons as Seraph Robe for HP. Res - Talisman: Ivy, but they would’ve gone to Chloé if I’d known that Chloé would turn out to be the much better tome user in my run. This stat rarely mattered much; I either avoided enemy tomes through high Avoid, or killed them before their counter (e.g. with Brave-type weapons or Alcryst’s Alacrity), or counter-attacked them with units such as Alcryst who wouldn’t gain much from extra Res. Mov - Boots: Alear used these. As an Avoid tank she often had to move far away from the main group so that enemies would only focus on her and Zelkov. Also, as enemy fliers can be more threatening when you’re depending on terrain or distance to protect units, it was sometimes important to reach enemy fliers with the Parthia bow from Lucina. Lucina also provides Bonded Shield, Dual Assist+ and Dual Support, all of which rely on positioning. Alear’s strong personal skill was another reason why it was important for her to reach certain allies to be adjacent to them. ————— End of Report ————— If anyone has read through this entire report, let me know so I can congratulate you on your achievement… although you won’t get any Bond Fragments for it.
  4. Fire Emblem Engage PMU Announcement!! What is a PMU? It means Pick My Units!! Yes, you!! We have finally completed Fire Emblem Engage Blind. Now we will do a very fun and silly run, where we play with all the new DLC, play with new units, learn new strategies, wear the One Piece, and more!! We will be doing Maddening Classic Mode (Random Growths) on our second run. Pick a SINGLE unit you would like me to use and the class you want me to train them into!! It can be a unique and new class I never tried before so i can experiment with new classes I didn't get to try in my last run. It can be an experimental class that works in favor with a certain units' stats that can offer them a greater hidden potential. Or even a silly, meme class for funsies!! It's all up to you guys!! If you see most people leaning towards one side, try to balance it out with the other. We want to have a good time after all and not just struggling throughout it all. Last but not least, here are a list of BANNED units in this run. All of the ones here are units who have already been used in my previous run and it's to give opportunity to try out new characters and see more supports and get to know more about the rest of the cast I didn't get to know!! (SPOILER ALERT for Engage units below. If you have not beaten the game and do not want to be spoiled on recruitable units. Do not proceed any further) Male Alear Hortensia Anna Clanne Framme Seadall Ivy Kagetsu Yunaka Veyle Etie Fogado Timerra and Louis will not be banned cuz they are based. Timerra is a mandatory pick since she is the waifu. Sorry, not sorry. Just how it goes around here 😋 DISCLAIMER: If you want me to choose your pick, please try to be present atleast to some extent in the streams. It's only fair to others who are present and weren't fortunate enough to get a pick and that we see you around to support your specialized unit for the run!! (Or the VODS. Just leave a comment to show your support and to show that you were there. I understand people can be busy to catch it Live)😆
  5. The difficulty has been a blast. Just finished Chapter 13. Some of the paralogue missions have been really intense and am so glad for the extra reinforcements to farm exp. Who has been a surprise clutch unit for you thus far? Mine, which is no surprise at all is Yunaka. I heard a rumor if you give Brodia enough gold, you can unlock more skirms other than the tutorial one you get at chapter 11. Can anyone confirm this? Also new here. Long time fan of the site, just never posted on forums before.
  6. Long time lurker here, and I just completed my first NG Maddening run last night, taking the Verdant Wind route; and I wanted to share some of my overall thoughts about the experience, as well as my party build. I found these types of posts really helpful for my planning of the run, so I wanted to give back for those looking for ideas. General Comments on the Run -I used DLC characters, items, and aux battles. I held out on the stat boosters until after Chapter 5, but I did use the Chalice of Beginnings right away -The run took me just under 110 hours. I avoided cheesy grinding strats with rusted weapons/heal tiles. However, I did do aux battles ~1-2 weeks per month pre time skip, and ~1 week per month post time skip -I recruited every character possible on VW, and completed every paralogue. This was more trouble than it was worth, and I wouldn't do it again. I found it really stunted Byleth's growth, and she was often the last unit to promote to a class tier. Next time, I will just focus on recruits/paralogues of units that give me something I need for my endgame build -Holy cow, the difficulty at the beginning is truly maddening. I found the most difficult sections of the game were Chapters 3 & 5 (I averaged 50+ turn counts without grinding), doing DLC aux battles in the very early game, the pre time skip paralogues, and Chapter 13. The lack of stats, movement, and utility tools really punishes the player, especially when so many early enemy units have Pass -I can't stress how important it is to plan your units/builds ahead of time. The units where I planned ahead really came together, while I was kicking myself for not thinking through some unit progression ahead of time (looking at you, Byleth!) -My builds are player phase focused. I had never used some of the enemy phase strats with dodge tanking or Vantage/Wrath, and I shied away from too much experimenting once I experienced that intense difficulty curve early game My Roster (in order of MVPs) Mercedes, Bishop, 35 Battles/13 Victories (37%), 0 MVPs Faith Lv 5, White Magic Range + 1, Reason Lv 5, Magic +2, Fiendish Blow -My main healer. She is a unit of extremes -- depending on the turn, she can heal my entire party to full with the click of a button, or she does nothing. A good candidate for a Stride battalion to fill in some more useful turns -Pros: I was not using Vengeance or Vantage/Wrath strats on my other units, so Fortify was really strong and didn't come with downsides. The auto self-heal personal meant that if she did have to tank a hit, I didn't have to worry about healing her (rare). Her Res was so sky high, she could pull enemy mages worry-free throughout the whole run -Cons: She lacks really any other utility tools (Warp, Rescue, Silence), so there were a lot of turns where she just Waits -This pick was more of a security blanket for me, and if given another chance, I probably would opt for a unit with more offense or utility Marianne, Dancer, 113 Battles/50 Victories (44%), 0 MVPs Sword Lv5, Reason Lv5, Sword Avo +20, Special Dance, Fiendish Blow -I love the Dancer class, it just opens up so many possibilities (double your strongest unit, fix positional problems). I paired her with Fetters of Dromi, so I could just dive bomb a critical enemy with Lysithea and dance out -I trained her swords and gave her a Levin Sword and her relic. She was able to delete some enemy units all the way up until late game. Also, she was super dodgy with Sword Lv5 and Sword Avo+20. Between her Avo and a Guard Adjutant, I could keep her on the frontlines without as much risk -Her having Physic is a huge bonus for Chapters in which you have to split your party or Chapter 13. I didn't find much use for Silence, it was often just better to Dance a unit and eliminate the caster Ignatz, Sniper, 269 Battles/173 Victories (64%), 0 MVPs Bow Lv5, Death Blow, +20 Hit, Bow Crit +10, +4 Dex -Ignaughty was the surprise of the run. I thought he was a pipsqueak and I never used him in any of my Normal/Hard runs. I was so wrong -Because of his personal and his Speed Rally, his early game is strong as a reliable chipper or a speed rally bot to prevent or cause doubles. Thank Sothis I had him for those times you NEED some additional dmg to an enemy on forest or +Avo heal tiles -Around mid game, his crit potential comes online, and he starts to become a monster. Give him a Killer Bow, a Crit Ring, and Hunter's Volley, and he becomes a delete button with 3 range and a high hit rate -He had the highest Victories/Battles ratio on the team (64%), despite spending most of the early game chipping damage. If I could see the stats just post time skip, I bet it is some crazy high % ratio -Avoid the temptation of investing any strength stat boosts early, he'll cover it with crits later on -Overall, a low investment/high return unit with a strong early and late game -- 100% recommend Leonie, Bow Knight, 307 Battles/127 Victories (41%), 1 MVP Bow Lv5, Death Blow, +20 Hit, Bow Crit +10, Mov +1 -If Ignatz was my pleasant surprise of the run, Leonie was my negative surprise -To her credit, she was one my strongest and most flexible early game units -- useful with a lance or bow, and she can tank a hit -My intention for her was to be using Point-Blank Volley on horseback; but I already had that with Sylvain and Swift Strikes, and he got blessed with more strength and def, AND he has a relic and crest. There are too many maps in the midgame in which horseback gets neutered by terrain/stairs, so Leonie ended up being the odd woman out when I needed to pare my squad down -Luckily, Chapters 19-21 were mostly flat, so she came alive for those and salvaged her investment; but if I could do it all again, I would find a way to get her airborne Claude, Barbarossa, 410 Battles/196 Victories (48%), 2 MVPs Bow Lv5, Death Blow, +20 Hit, Bow Crit +10, Bowfaire -Oh man, I feel like I could talk forever about Claude. After this run, I am still no closer to knowing if he is the best lord or the worst lord -Best lord: Barbarossa is a top tier class, and requires no investment. Encloser means that Claude can always deal with an enemy unit, even if he can't delete it. Ashes and Dust is an S tier battalion. Two fliers to start Chapter 13. He has good supports with other natural fliers. Dreamiest eyes -Worst lord: He is a liability on enemy phase. Lacks the raw damage of a Bey-delgard or a Dimitri. Locked out of Darting Blow (granted, so is Dimitri) -Either way, he was a super solid unit for me. Low investment/high return Seteth, Wyvern Lord, 209 Battles/115 Victories (55%), 2 MVPs Lance Lv5, Death Blow, +20 Hit, Lance Crit +10, Alert Stance+ -Seteth was a strong unit for me. My only complaint is that you get him so late -You really need to take Chapter 12 and the first bit post time skip to invest in him to get him caught up with masteries -- plus you also want to rush to Lances A -Once you do get him online, he is immediate A team material just as you start getting more unit slots available for chapters. Swift Strikes + flying is so strong -I got lucky with Def/Res level ups. Along with his very strong crest, he was one of my few units who could take a punch or two in the late game and still keep trucking along Sylvain, Paladin, 320 Battles/202 Victories (63%), 3 MVPs Lance Lv5, Death Blow, +20 Hit, Lance Crit +10, Strength +2 -My other Swift Striker, I went the Paladin route (as opposed to Wyvern). It is really low investment when you don't have to worry about getting him airborne or trained too high in axes -- that way you can focus on rushing Lances A -Sylvain has a really good set of bases, so the immediate recruit from F Byleth added a strong early game unit for free -I think if the terrain in this game was more forgiving for horse units, Paladin Sylvain would be one of the best unit/class combos in the game -He was my Death Knight killer late game once the Death Knight scaling outpaced Lysithea's damage; Swift Strikes + Lance of Ruin is that strong Balthus, Grappler, 290 Battles/177 Victories (61%), 3 MVPs Fist Lv5, Death Blow, +20 Hit, Fist Crit +10, Fistfaire -While I found his voice acting and barks grating, on the battlefield he is a monster -Another low investment/high return unit, with a fist relic for when you need a little bit of extra oomph -I had originally intended to leave him in War Master, but the terrain ignore and Fierce Iron Fists from Grappler are just too strong that I went back after getting Quick Riposte. After this run, I am not convinced Quick Riposte was worth it, and that maybe the best play is to just stop at Grappler -The biggest flaw, if you can call it that, was that he didn't have Canto (unlike most of my other top units), so he sometimes got left out of position and had to use a turn to catch up Petra, Wyvern Lord, 286 Battles/184 Victories (64%), 4 MVPs Axe Lv5, Death Blow, Darting Blow, +20 Hit, Alert Stance+ -I really don't have much new to add on Petra that others here don't already know. She is one of the strongest units in the game -- great growths, great skill boons, natural fit into Wyvern Lord/Falcon Knight -I rushed B support to get her ASAP, and slotted her in immediately -She's not the perfect unit -- no crest to use a relic safely, she doesn't have a lot of supports out of house, and she gets a little outscaled in the final chapters -If you've been reading closely, you've probably noticed I've often mentioned valuing "low investment" unit/class combos. That is because you have limited investment, and a unit like Petra needs a lot of investment to thrive -- flying, auth, axes, bows, lances to get to my endgame build, not to mention using stat boosters to fix any issues you have with her growths. This is where progression planning really paid off Hilda, Wyvern Lord, 375 Battles/207 Victories (55%), 5 MVPs Axe Lv5, Death Blow, Darting Blow, +20 Hit, Alert Stance+ -What a unit, Hilda rules. By the end of my run, I was chanting Hilda! Hilda! along with her -She was just a better-performing version of my Petra above, because she had higher Str and Freikugel to help keep up with late game damage -Hilda required the most investment by a wide margin -- neutral in bows/flying, and a bane in auth. She was instructed every week, and part of all of my Group Tasks. I also gave her Dex stat boosters to help fix her hit rate issues -I also did a little training in Heavy Armor early to get her a cert in Armored Knight to raise her Def a bit. She was able to tank a hit to soften Nemesis at the end, which is more than I can say for most of my units -High investment, very high return -- struggled with hit rate in the early game, but even so, she was one of my strongest units throughout the whole run Byleth (F), Falcon Knight, 443 Battles/247 Victories (56%), 9 MVPs Lance Lv5, Death Blow, Darting Blow, +20 Hit, Alert Stance+ -I went female for the access to Darting Blow and the free Sylvain -This is my first Byleth that I didn't keep in Enlightened One with a sword, and I vastly underestimated the amount of monastery training I needed for her to keep up her progression with her students -Luckily, post time skip you are swimming in activity points, so I eventually got her there; but she was my last unit to certify into her final class. I only went Falcon Knight because I was so behind on axes compared to lances/swords -My strongest unit early game, really carried the first few chapters. Also my only unit who could keep up with endgame stat scaling and who could still reliably double all the way through Nemesis -Because it is so easy to keep her Charm sky high, she was my Ashes and Dust gambit user, and it really carries some sticky situations late game -She was also the closest thing I had to an enemy phase dodge tank, and I would use her when I needed to pull late game enemy units Lysithea, Gremory, 381 Battles/226 Victories (59%), 15 MVPs Reason Lv5, Fiendish Blow, Uncanny Blow, Dark Magic Range +1, Dark Tomefaire -What a monster of a unit. I gave her my +2 move shoes and Thyrsus -- so she had a ton of battlefield control -She was my only Warper, so I sometimes had to forego the damage to get some critical utility -I often paired her with Marianne's Dance, so she could delete just about any two units per turn from 5 tiles away. I mentioned this before, but it was so effective to dive bomb her deep to delete a priority unit, then use Marianne to Dance + Fetters her out of harm's way -I considered her an S+ tier unit coming into this run, but I am backing off of that a little. Her early game is slow before she gets going, and really late game she struggles to OHKO enemy units, even if you feed her Magic stat boosters -However, once she got Thyrsus and some class masteries, all the way up until the very late game, Lysithea was the undisputed champion of my run Honorable Mentions Lorenz, Mage -I kept up with his training and used him as an adjutant through Part 1 for one purpose: to help Ignatz stay alive in Chapter 13. When it was time to shine, there were two turns when I needed his damage to keep it all together, and he delivered -So much experience investment for 2 turns, but worth it Caspar, Warrior -1 Battle, 1 Victory: the Death Knight. What a boss Conclusion A big shout out to the people who contribute to this forum -- you really helped me put together a plan and see it through -- it was such a rewarding gaming experience. I hope this post can help others like me who were on the fence and looking for some ideas. I invite your feedback or any recommendations to improve on these ideas for others.
  7. After a 2 month hiatus, we are finally back with our Fire Emblem: Three Houses Pick My Units Iron Man Run (on Maddening Mode) As a reminder, these were the units chosen for the PMU: Mortal Savant Hapi (by: Father Shrimpas) Warmaster Hanneman (by: Saint Rubenio) Swordmaster Raphael (by: Benice) Holy Knight Ingrid (by: Lonestar) Trickster Jeritza (by: Dayni) Wyvern Lord Annette (by: Sooks) Warrior Constance (by Dr. Shaky Jones) Valkyrie Lysithea (by: Ether) Sniper Mercedes (by: AnonymousSpeed) Paladin Hubert (by: Barren) Dismounted Falcon Knight Byleth (by: Ether) Dancer Edelgard (by: The ChoZen One) And the PMU Rules: - Maddening Mode - Iron Man (No divine pulses or resets, If Byleth or Edelgard dies, the run ends. No retreating. If a defeat condition is met, the run ends. Paralogues and all!!) -Units have to be in their respective chosen classes as soon as the classes to them are available and from the moment they are, they have to be used for every chapter battle (can only be changed temporarily during auxiliary battles when training to get skills) - Iron Man Officially Starts at Chapter 2 (Chapter 1 will not count to save time) - No Chalice of Beginnings, Start game stat boosters. - Ashen Wolves, Anna, & Jeritza are allowed - New Game+ - Using NG+ Renown to raise Skill level is not allowed. Only for supports (to recruit students) and to get Professor Rank A. - Abyss Renown items are allowed depending how difficult the run gets. As well as the Yellow Aux battles as well as carry over gambits from a previous new game file (including Ashes and Dust) But I will refrain from using anything I feel is not necessary. I will use these most likely though. - DLC classes are allowed. - I am allowed to look at map/enemy data on stream to check ambush reinforcement placements & triggers. - The battle of the eagle and lion will be treated as an iron man map. If someone dies, I can't use them again. - If a Unit dies, already start preparing your votes for the backup units I will use (Give a unit and a class you want them to be in). So far we have Warrior Ignatz and Armor Knight Manuela. Streaming Part 4 now!!:
  8. So I can't stop thinking about the Maddening Iron Man I am about to do on Crimson Flower. I'm so excited for it for some reason and I been preparing notes and stuff to take this as seriously as possible to get it done successfully on stream!! If you guys have any tips or suggestions to help make the Iron Man more doable let me know!! (This will be streamed after I finish my Maddening Blue Lions NG+ 3 DP Run). This will be my very first maddening iron man for Three Houses so I am beyond excited and nervous. I practiced Maddening for GD & BL routes, so hopefully the knowledge from those playthroughs help!! The rules are going to be: - No resets, & no retreating. If a green unit dies in a paralogue that causes a defeat condition and gameover (Rodrigue, Rhea, etc.) Run can still continue, but paralogue must be ended right there and I unable to retry it again. Any units lost prior to the defeat can't be used again. If it is one of my units and their death is apart of the defeat condition, if they die, then the run ends. - No Divine Pulse AT ALL. This is a TRUE Iron Man run so I don't want to use these like I did in my current BL Maddening run. - No DLC items (Chalice of Beginnings, Start game stat boosters, etc.) However, Vajra- Mushti & Fetters of Dromi are allowed to use for Yuri & Balthus. - Ashen Wolves, Anna, & Jeritza are allowed - No New Game+. However I will be playing on NG+ for the Edelgard hairstyle but I won't be using any of the renown. So it will be played as if it WAS a non-NG+ file. Renown statues will not be touched if they carry over some of the perks from a previous run. (I will check and try to select a file that doesn't have the statues maxed) - No Abyss Renown items. - DLC classes are allowed. - Endgame classes for team can't have more than 2 units in the same class. (No full wyvern team, full dark flier team allowed, etc.) - I am allowed to look at map/enemy data on stream to check ambush reinforcement placements & triggers. - Iron Man officially begins after the mock battle, as it's easy to get RNG screwed in that battle and lose a unit/game over. So anyone who dies stays alive. And if I game over, since nothing is really affected since the only map prior to that is the tutorial map, we are allowed to retry the map if something goes wrong (to save time from unecessarily playing the long tutorial and starting monastery section again and again) To compensate for this, the battle of the eagle and lion will be treated as an iron man map. If someone dies, I can't use them again. If there are any fun rules you want to suggest (may or may not be added) or things I am forgetting to make the Iron Man run as fair as possible, let me know!! 😄 But yeah any tips or suggestions to help me complete the run, give me your wisdom!! 😁 This is my planned team:
  9. At the moment I am on chapter 17 on my Blue Lions run. I've managed to overcome the fights so far with Dimitri's B.Vantage + B.Wrath more or less but it's still really damn potent. Byleth on my run is right now a War Master. He already mastered Enlightened One and War Master so I have Sacred Power and Quick Riposte. I'm not sure if there is anything else he should go for. I feel like War Master is the ultimate goal for him. I could pick up Brawl Avoid from War Monk or maybe give him Fierce Iron Fist for Grappler. Here's a pic down below. Let me know what you think. This picture is from Imageshack so I'm hoping that people can see it
  10. So here I am, on my first maddening play through and I just made it through the mess that is chapter 13. The route I am on is Silver Snow, and this map on maddening scares me a lot. So, with the whole of timeskip left to complete, is there anything I could or should be doing to be able to take on this map at the end? Since I made it through 13 I definitely want to be able to complete this run. The units I have access to are Byleth, all the black eagles (other than Edelgard and Hubert, obviously), Flayn, Seteth, Catherine, Shamir and Cyril (yeah, SS Cyril, but I have stat boosters at least), and since that’s a perfect 12 I guess that will be my endgame team. But the question remains, how can I prepare? Is this chapter easy to soft lock on like chapter 13? I just feel this chapter will be problematic. Thank you.
  11. The inevitable thread for someone on their first play through of maddening. And another one bites the dust. I‘m sorry, but how are you supposed to do this?? The entire first section of the map is jam packed with super fast (and therefore doubling) enemies like thieves, assassins (ugh), grapplers and snipers so my wyverns can’t even stay mounted. Everyone has been trained up. Of everyone who joins on the left (Byleth, Seteth, Petra, Caspar and Dorothea) only Dorothea is not a wyvern rider, she is a dancer. Everyone has an offensive gambit, and I have things like the speed ring, Petra with alert stance, accuracy ring, the prayer ring, Dorothea’s rally charm and Thunderbrand amongst this group. Everyone has supports with each other (except Seteth who naturally only has support with Byleth) and yet I just get completely curb stomped. So. Many Enemies. So, what do I do to survive the very beginning? I can kinda sorta barely make it to the turn after Dorothea, Caspar and Petra join. Yay... Maybe I should reclass people to not wyverns? I don’t have any super good flying battalions, except Cichol wyvern co but >A authority so no one is using it. Dorothea’s empire magic users is really really good but that’s it. But if my unit’s can’t fly away, they die. I just don’t see how to do this. So many enemies, all of them doubling...
  12. So I have recently begun my first not just messing around save file in maddening mode, on NG because I want that golden title screen. I have made it to chapter six and I find myself increasingly concerned that I’m not going for the “optimal” builds and that I’m wasting all my in game time, which could cause me to be stuck with weak sauce units who can’t progress late into the game. Which brings me to the question of today’s thread, how essential are good skill sets and how much work should I put in? I at least plan to get death blow for my physical units, fiendish blow for my mages, and darting blow for everyone who is applicable, but then what? I’m just getting to intermediate tier so now is the time to ask, I feel. More questions: Are there any other classes that is really important to master? How much should I focus on getting skills from tutoring (as in going for certain skill ranks to get abilities)? I just want to make sure I can finish this run, and now is where I can really start shaping my units I feel. Thank you!
  13. I'm on my first go at Maddening on Verdant Wind, (NG, Classic) and I'm finding Maddening to be rather punishing right now. My greatest fear for the playthrough is getting softlocked on ch. 13, so I'm trying not to mess around anywhere. I'm also trying to avoid grinding, since I don't wanna wreck the difficulty curve of the game. That said, I feel that already at ch. 4, I've sorta hit a wall stat and skill wise, particularly with having no actual way to deal with the DK. I can deal with it now, but I don't know if I will be if there are any difficulty spikes. So I suppose the question is: Is Maddening feasibly possible without any auxillary battles, or should I start getting them now rather than having to backtrack later to get past a softlock?
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